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vl'-v 


Letters  of 

Fyodor    Michailovitch 
Dostoevsky 

to  his  Family  and  Friends 


FYODOR   MICHAILOVITCH   DOSTOEVSKY,    PETERSBURG,    1879. 


[Frontispiece. 


Letters  of 

Fyodor  ;Michailovitch 
(Dostoevsky 

to  his  Family  and  Friends 

TRANSLATED  BY 

ETHEL  GOLBURN  MAYNE 


London 
Ghatto  6?  Windus 


1'it  st  edition,  October,  1914 
Second  edition,  re-set,  November  19/7 


All  rights  reset'.,  ed 


TRANSLATOR'S    PREFACE 

IN  the  German  translator's1  preface  to  this  volume 
it  is  pointed  out  that  a  complete  collection  of  Dos- 
toevsky's  letters  does  not  yet  exist.  "  The  first 
volume  of  the  first  collected  edition  of  Dostoevsky's 
works  (St.  Petersburg,  1873),  contains  only  a  selection, 
which  is  usually  lacking  in  the  later  editions."  Herr 
Eliasberg  goes  on  to  tell  us  that  "  a  series  of  letters 
which  were  to  have  been  included  in  the  present  work 
was  at  the  last  moment  withdrawn  by  the  novelist's 
widow;  the  corrected  proofs  of  these  are  to  be  pre- 
served in  a  sealed  portfolio  at  the  Dostoevsky  Museum 
in  Moscow." 

The  present  volume  derives  chiefly  from  the  book 
by  Tchechichin:  "Dostoevsky  in  the  Reminiscences 
of  his  Contemporaries,  and  in  his  Letters  and  Memo- 
randa "  (Moscow,  1912).  The  letters  here  numbered 
XXXVIII.,  XLIV.,  L.,  LVL,  and  LVIII.  are  lacking 
in  Tchechichin's  book,  and  were  taken  from  a 
Russian  monthly  journal,  Rousskaya  Starina.  Those 
numbered  XXXIX.,  XLVI.,  XLVIIL,  and  LIX., 
which  are  incompletely  given  by  Tchechichin,  are 
here  given  in  full. 

From  Tchechichin's  work  were  also  taken  a  number 

1  Herr  Alexander  Eliasberg  (R.  Piper  and  Go.,  Munich). 
v 


vi  TRANSLATOR'S  PREFACE 

of  notes,  as  well  as  the  reminiscences  of  Dostoevsky 
by  his  contemporaries,  which  here  form  an  Appendix. 

The  present  text,  therefore,  while  it  contains  much 
that  is  relatively  "  inedited,"  yet  cannot  pretend  to 
full  completeness.  On  comparing  it  with  a  French 
translation  of  some  of  the  letters,  issued  by  the 
Societe  du  Mercure  de  France  in  1908,  it  is  seen  to 
be  a  good  deal  the  more  judiciously  edited  of  the 
two — the  German  translator  has  pared  away  many 
repetitions,  much  irrelevant  and  uninteresting  matter, 
while  he  has  used  material  of  the  highest  biographical 
value  which  the  French  editor  either  unaccountably 
omitted,  or,  it  may  be,  had  not  at  disposal.  Of  such 
are  the  letters  enumerated  above ;  and,  more  than  all, 
the  peculiarly  interesting  passage  in  Letter  XXXIV., 
which  relates  Dostoevsky's  historic  quarrel  with 
Turgenev. 

A  word  about  the  punctuation.  It  has  been,  so  far 
as  was  thought  at  all  feasible,  left  as  Dostoevsky 
offered  it.  Like  Byron,  he  "  did  not  know  a  comma; 
at  least,  where  to  put  one  " — or  rather,  in  Dos- 
toevsky's case,  where  not  to  put  one,  for  his  lavish 
use  of  the  less  important  and  lucid  sign  is  very  re- 
markable. Here  and  there,  this  predilection  has 
been  departed  from  by  me,  but  only  when  it  too 
deeply  obscured  the  sense  ;  elsewhere,  since  even 
punctuation  has  its  value  for  the  student  of  character, 
Dostoevsky's  "  system  "  is  retained  in  all  its  chaotic 
originality. 

E.  C.  M. 


CONTENTS 

PAGE 

TRANSLATOR'S  PREFACE              ...  v 

CHRONOLOGICAL  TABLE  OF  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LIFE          .  xi 

LETTERS 

1.  To  his  Father:  May  10,  1838            .            .  i 

2.  To  his  Brother  Michael:  August  9,  1838       .             .  3 
3-             ,,                 ,,             October  31,  1838    .             .  5 
4.             ,,                  ,,              January  i,  1840     .             .  9 
5-             ,,                 i,             September  30,  1844            .  15 

6.  „                 :,              March  24,  1845       .             .  17 

7.  „                 „              May  4,  1845             .             .  21 

8.  ,,                 ,,             October  8,  1845      .             .  24 

9.  ,,                 ,,             November  16,  1845             .  28 

10.  ,,                 „             February  i,  1846   .             .  31 

11.  „                 „             April  i,  1846           .             .  33 

12.  ,,                 ,,              September  17,  1846             .  36 

13.  ,,                 ,,             Undated,  1846        .             .  37 

14.  ,,                 ,,             November  26,  1846             .  38 

15.  ,,                 ,,             Undated,  1847        .             .  40 

16.  „                 ,,             Undated,  1847        .             .  43 

17.  „                  „              July  18,  1849          .             .  43 

18.  ..                 ,,              August  27,  1849     .              .  46 

19.  ,,                 ,,             September  14,  1849            .  48 

20.  ,,                  ,,              December  22,  1849              .  50 

21.  „                 ,,             February  22,  1854               .  51 

22.  To  Mme.  N.  D.  Fonvisin:  Beginning  of  March,  1854  66 

23.  To  Mme.  Maria  Dmitryevna  Issayev:  June  4,  1855  70 

24.  To  Mme.  Praskovya  Yegorovna  Annenkov :  October 

18,  1855 77 

25.  To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov :  January  18,  1856  79 


viii  CONTENTS 

PAGB: 

26.  To  General  E.  I.  Totleben:  March  24,  1856              .  86 

27.  To  Baron  A.  E.  Vrangel:  April  13,  1856       .             .  92 

28.  To  his  Brother  Michael:  May  31,  1858          .             .  94 

29.  ,,                  ,,               May  9,  1859           .             .  97 

30.  To  Frau  Stackenschneider:  May  3,  1860      .             .  99- 

31.  To  Mme.  V.  D.  Constantino:  September  i,  1862      .  101 

32.  To  N.  N.  Strachov:  September  18  [30],  1863            .  103 

33.  To  A.  P.  Milyukov:  June,  1866         .             .             .  106 

34.  To  Apollon  Maikov:  August  16  [28],  1867    .             .  108 

35.  To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna :  September  29 

[October  n],  1867  .  .  .  .120 

36.  To  Apollon  Maikov:  October  9  [21],  1867    .             .  124 

37.  To  P.  A.  Issayev:  October  10  [22],  1867      .             .  127 

38.  To    his    Sister    Vera,     and    his    Brother-in-Law, 

Alexander  Pavlovitch  Ivanov:  January  i   [13], 
1868  .  .  .  .  .  .129 

39.  To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna:  January  i  [13], 

1868            ......  134 

40.  To  P.  A.  Issayev:  February  19  [March  3],  1868       .  138. 

41.  To  Apollon  Maikov:  May  1 8  [30],  1868        .             .  139 

42.  ,,                 ,,       June  10  [22],  1868        .             .  141 

43.  „                 „       October  7  [19],  1868    .             .  142 

44.  To  his  Niece:  October  26  [November  7],  1868          .  145 

45.  To  Apollon  Maikov:  December  n  [23],  1868            .  148 

46.  To  his  Niece:  January  25  [February  6],  1869           .  151 

47.  To  N.  N.  Strachov:  February  26  [March  10],  1869  .  156 

48.  To  his  Niece:  March  8  [20],  1869      .             .             .  159 

49.  To  N.  N.  Strachov:  March  18  [30],  1869      .  .165 

50.  To  his  Niece:  August  29  [September  10],  1869         .  167 

51.  To  Apollon  Maikov:  October  16  [28],  1869  .  .172 

52.  .  ,,                  ,,       February  12  [24],  1870             .  174 

53.  To  N.  N.  Strachov:  February  26  [March  10],  1870  .  175 
54-              »                  ,,       March  24  [April  5],  1870           .  177 

55.  To  Apollon  Maikov:  March  25  [April  6],  1870          .  180 

56.  To  his  Sister  Vera,  and  his  Niece:  May  7  [19],  1870.  183 

57.  To  N.  N.  Strachov:  June  n  [23],  1870         .             .  186 

58.  To  his  Niece:  July  2  [14],  1870         .             .             .  187 
59-             ,,             August  17  [29],  1870  .             .             .  191 
60    To  N.  N.  Strachov:  October  9  [21],  1870     .            .  198 


CONTENTS  ix 

PAGE 

61.  To  Apollon  Maikov:  December  15  [27],  1870  .     199 

62.  ,,  (,       December    30    [January    u], 

1870-71         .             .  .     200 

63.  ,,                 ,,       March  2  [14],  1871       .  .     202 

64.  To  N.  N.  Strachov:  April  23  [May  5],  1871  .     204 
65-             ,,                 ,,      May  18  [30],  1871          .  .     206 

66.  To  Mme.  Ch.  D.  Altschevsky:  April  9,  1876  .     211 

67.  To  Vsevolod  Solovyov :  July,  1876   .             .  .     215 

68.  To  Mile.  Gerassimov:  March  7,  1877             .  .     217 

69.  To  A.  P.  N. :  May  19,  1877    ....     219 

70.  To  N.  L.  Osmidov:  February,  1878                .  .     221 

71.  To  a  Mother :  March  27,  1878            .             .  .     223 

72.  To  a  Group  of  Moscow  Students:  April  18,  1878  .     227 

73.  To  Mile.  N.  N. :  April  n,  1880          .             .  .     234 

74.  To  Frau  E.  A.  Stackenschneider:  July  17,  1880  .     237 

75.  To  N.  L.  Osmidov:  August  18,  1880             .  .     240 

76.  To  I.  S.  Aksakov:  August  28,  1880  .             .  .     242 

77.  To  Dr.  A.  F.  Blagonravov:  December  19,  1880  .     244 

RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

By  D.  V.  Grigorovitch  (1837-1846)          .             .  .     247 

By  A.  P.  Milyukov  (1848-1849)                 .             .  .     256 

By  P.  K.  Martyanov  (1850-1854)             .             .  .     266 

By  Baron  Alexander  Vrangel  (1854-1865)           .  .     272 
By  Sophie  Kovalevsky  (1866)      ....     302 

CONTEMPORARY  JUDGMENTS 

R.  P.  Pobyedonoszev  to  I.  S.  Aksakov  .             .  .     314 

I.  S.  Aksakov  to  R.  P.  Pobyedonoszev  .             .  .     315 

Turgenev  to  Slutchevsky             .  315 

„              Dostoevsky               .             .             .  .315 

,,              Polonsky      .             .             ,             .  .316 

,,              Mme.  Milyutin         .             .             .  .316 

Saltykov  (1875)        ....     317 

Saltykov  (1882)        .             .             .  .317 

Tolstoy  to  A.  N.  Strachov           .            .            .  .317 


INDEX 


319 


ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING  PAGE 

Portrait  of  Dostoevsky,  Petersburg,  1879  .  i 

Dostoevsky's  Birthplace  (the  Workhouse  Hospital  at 

Moscow)        .  .  .  .  •  .       xii 

Dostoevsky's  Father        .  .  .  .  .2 

Michael  Dostoevsky         .  .  .  .  .40 

Dostoevsky's  Mother       .  .  .  .  -7° 

Dostoevsky  at  Semipalatinsk  (1858)  in  Ensign's  Uni- 
form .  .  .  .  .  .98 

F.  M.  Dostoevsky  .....     142 

Facsimile  of  "  The  Possessed,"  Part  III.,  beginning  of 

Chapter  I.     .  .  .  .  .  .178 

Dostoevsky,  Petersburg,  1876     .  .  .  .212 

Dostoevsky's  Study  in  Petersburg  .  .  .     222 

Portrait  of  Dostoevsky,  Petersburg,  1879  .  .234 

Dostoevsky,  Moscow,  1880  ....     242 

Dostoevsky's    Handwriting    in    1838    (Letter    to    his 

Brother  Michael,  August  9)  ...     250 

Dostoevsky,  Moscow,  1863  .  .  .  .298 

Dostoevsky  on  his  Death-Bed,  January  29,  1 881  .     314 

The  Widow  and  Children  of  Dostoevsky  at  his  Grave  in 

Petersburg    .  .  .  .  .  .316 

The  illustrations  are  from  photographs  taken,  by  permission, 
from  the  originals  in  the  Moscow  Museum. 


CHRONOLOGICAL   TABLE    OF 
DOSTOEVSKY'S   LIFE 

AFTER  V.  TCHECHICHIN 

1821.  "  In  the  parish  of  St.  Peter  and  Paul  at  Moscow  was 
born  on  October  30  of  the  year  1821,  in  the  dwelling- 
house  of  the  Workhouse  Hospital,  to  Staff-Physician 
Michail  Andreyevitch  Dostoevsky,  a  male  child,  who 
was  named  Fyodor.  Baptised  on  November  4." 

1831.  Dostoevsky 's  parents  purchase  a  country-house  in  the 
Tula  Government,  where  the  family  henceforth  spends 
the  summer. 

1834.  Dostoevsky  enters  the  boys'  school  of  L.  J.  Tchermak 
at  Moscow. 

1 836.  Great  influence  of  the  Literature-master  upon  the  boys. 
Enthusiasm  for  Pushkin. 

1837.  On  February  27,  Maria  Fyodorovna  Dostoevsky,  his 
mother,   dies.     Early  in  the  year,   Fyodor  Dostoevsky 
goes  with  his  elder  brother  Michael  to  Petersburg,  and 
enters  the  Preparatory  School  of  K.  F.   Kostomarov. 
In  the  autumn,  he  is  admitted  to  the  Principal  College 
of  Engineering. 

1837-43.     Study  at  the  College  of  Engineering. 

1838.  Summer   in   camp.     Enthusiasm   for    Balzac,  Hugo, 
E.  T.  A.  Hoffmann.     In  the  autumn,  failure  in  the  exa- 
minations; is  not  promoted.     In  the  winter,   friendly 
relations  with  Schidlovsky  and  Berechetzky.     Interest 
in  Schiller. 

1839.  Death  of  his  father,  Michail  Andreyevitch  Dostoevsky. 

1840.  November  29:  Promotion  to  non-commissioned  officer's 
rank.     December  27:  To  ensign's.     > 

1841.  Dramatic     efforts,    "Maria     Stuart"     and    "Boris 
Godounov."     (They    have    not    come    down    to    us.) 
August  5:  Dostoevsky  undergoes  the  examination  for 
promotion  to  commissioned  rank,  and  is  promoted  to 
be  Field-Engineer's  Ensign,  on  the  recommendation  of 
the  College  of  Engineering. 

1842.  Promotion  to  Lieutenant's  rank. 

1843.  August  12:  Leaves  the  College.     August  23:  Obtains 
an  appointment  in  the  Department  of  Engineering. 


xii  CHRONOLOGICAL  TABLE  OF 

1 844.  At  the  end  of  the  preceding  and  in  the  beginning  of  this 
year,    Dostoevsky  is   occupied   in   translating   Balzac's 
"  Eugenie   Grandet."     During  the   year  he   reads   and 
translates  works  by  George  Sand  and  Sue. 

Works  at  "  Poor  Folk." 

Project  for  a  drama  (Letter  of  September  30,  1844). 

October  19:  Dostoevsky  is  by  Royal  permission  dis- 
charged with  the  rank  of  First-Lieutenant  "  on  account 
of  illness." 

December  17:  He  is  struck  off  the  lists  of  the  Corps  of 
Military  Engineers. 

1845.  In  the  beginning  of  May,  the  novel  "Poor  Folk"  is. 
finished. 

Nekrassov  and  Grigorovitch  pay  the  midnight  visit 
after  reading  "  Poor  Folk." 

Intercourse  with  Bielinsky.  In  the  summer  he  goes 
to  his  brother  Michael  at  Reval. 

November  1 5 :  Letter  to  his  brother  with  news  of  his 
first  successes  in  literary  circles. 

At  the  end  of  the  year,  plans  for  the  satirical  journal, 
Suboskal. 

"  Novel  in  Nine  Letters." 

1846.  January  15:  Nekrassov's  Petersburg  Almanac  appears 
with  Dostoevsky's  first  book,  "Poor  Folk." 

Bielinsky 's  article  on  "  Poor  Folk"  in  the  Otetschcst- 
vennia  Zapiski. 

February  i:  The  story  of  "  The  Double  "  ("  Goliad- 
kin  ")  appears  in  the  Otetschestvennia  Zapiski. 

"  The  Whiskers  that  were  Shaved  Off  "  and  the  "  Story 
of  the  Abolished  Public  Offices."  (Neither  work  has 
come  down  to  us.) 

"  Mr.  Prochartschin  "  (O.  Z.,  No.  10). 

In  the  summer,  at  Reval  with  his  brother. 

In  the  autumn,  Dostoevsky  thinks  of  issuing  his  col- 
lected tales  in  volume  form. 

At  the  end  of  the  year  come  misunderstandings,  and 
a  breach  with  the  editorial  staff  of  the  Sovremennik. 

1847.  The  "  Novel  in  Nine  Letters  "  is  published  in  the  Sovre- 
mennik,  and  "  The  Mistress  of  the  Inn  "  in  the  Otetschest- 
vennia Zapiski. 

"  Poor  Folk  "  appears  in  book  form. 

1848.  The  February  Revolution  in  Paris. 

Political  groups,  such  as  those  around  Petrachevsky, 
form  in  Petersburg. 

"  The  Stranger-Woman  "  (O.  Z.,  No.  i). 
"  A  Weak  Heart  "  (O.  Z.,  No.  2). 
"  Christmas  and  Wedding  "  (O.  Z.,  No.  10). 
"  Bright  Nights  "  (0.  Z.,  No.  16). 


II 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  LIFE  xiii 

1848.  "  The  Jealous  Husband  "  (0.  Z.,  No.  12). 

1849.  "  Netotchka  Nesvanova  "  (0.  Z.,  Nos.  1-2,  5-6). 

In  March,  Dostoevsky  reads  aloud  [a  revolutionary 
letter  from  Bielinsky  to  Gogol  at  Petrachevsky's  rooms].1 

On  April  23,  Dostoevsky,  together  with  other  members 
of  the  Petrachevsky  circle,  is  arrested,  and  imprisoned 
in  the  Petropaulovsky  Fortress.  [He  was  accused  of 
"  having  taken  part  in  conversations  about  the  severity 
of  the  Censorship ;  of  having  read,  at  a  meeting  in  March, 
1849,  Bielinsky 's  revolutionary  letter  to  Gogol;  of  having 
again  read  it  at  Dourov's  rooms,  and  of  having  given  it 
to  Monbelli  to  copy;  of  having  listened  at  Dourov's  to 
the  reading  of  various  articles;  of  having  knowledge  of 
the  plan  to  establish  a  clandestine  printing-press,"  etc.]1 

December  19 :  Dostoevsky  is  condemned  to  degradation 
from  military  rank,  and  imprisonment. 

December  22:  Dostoevsky,  and  all  the  Petrachevsky 
group,  hear  read  over  them,  first,  the  death-sentence, 
and  then  the  commuted  sentence  of  hard  labour  in  the 
Siberian  prisons. 

December  24-25:  On  this  night  Dostoevsky  is  put  in 
irons,  and  transported  from  Petersburg  to  Siberia. 

1850.  January  n:  Arrival  at  Tobolsk.     Meeting  with  the 
wives  of  the  Decembrists. 

January  17:  Continues  journey  to  Omsk. 
1850-54.     Serves  his  sentence  in  the  prison  at  Omsk. 

1854.  February  15:  Completion  of  sentence. 

February  22:  Letter  to  his  brother  with  description 
of  his  life  in  the  prison. 

March  2 :  Dostoevsky  is  enrolled  as  private  in  the  7th 
Siberian  Regiment  of  the  Line. 

In  end  of  March,  arrives  at  Semipalatinsk. 

In  May,  writes  his  poem  on  the  European  incidents  of 
1854. 

November  21 :  Baron  Vrangel  arrives  at  Semipalatinsk. 

1855.  February  19:  The  Tsar  Alexander  II.  ascends  the 
throne.     Dostoevsky  writes  a  poem  on  the  death  of 
Nicholas  I.  and  the  accession  of  Alexander  II.     (It  has 
not  come  down  to  us.)     He  begins  "  The  House  of  the 
Dead." 

1856.  January  15:  Promotion  to  non-commissioned  rank. 
March  24:  Letter  to  General  Totleben,  requesting  his 

intercession  with  the  Tsar. 

October  i :  By  Imperial  command,  he  is  promoted  to 
be  Ensign  in  the  same  battalion. 

1  Translator's  amplification. 


xiv  CHRONOLOGICAL  TABLE  OF 

1857.  February  6:  Dostoevsky's  betrothal  to  the  widowed 
Maria  Dmitryevna  Issayev  takes  place  at  Kusnezk. 

April  18:  Imperial  minute  to  the  Commander  of  the 
Siberian  Army  Corps  to  the  effect  that  Dostoevsky  and 
his  legal  heirs  regain  the  ancient  title  of  nobility,  though 
the  confiscated  property  is  not  to  be  restored.  Dos- 
toevsky first  hears  of  this  in  May. 

At  the  end  of  the  year,  Dostoevsky  sends  in  a  petition, 
on  discharge,  begging  to  be  allowed  to  live  in  Moscow. 

"  The  Little  Hero  "  (O.  Z.,  No.  8). 

1859.  March  18:  Discharged  from  military  service  with  the 
rank  of  Lieutenant.     Indication  of  the  town  of  Tver  as 
a  suitable  place  of  abode. 

'-'  Uncle's  Dream  "  (Roussky  Viestnik,  No.  3). 

July  2 :  Departure  from  Semipalatinsk. 

Autumn  in  Tver.  Petition  to  the  Tsar,  that  he  may  be 
allowed  to  live  freely  in  all  the  towns  of  the  Empire. 
Work  at  "  The  House  of  the  Dead." 

"  Stepanchikovo  Village  "  (O.  Z.,  Nos.  11-12). 

At  the  end  of  November,  permission  to  leave  Tver. 
Leaves  for  Petersburg. 

1860.  Collected  Edition  of  Works.     Two  volumes.     Moscow: 
N.  A.  Osnovsky. 

1861.  Collaboration  on  the  journal  Vremya. 
Publication  of  "  Injury  and  Insult  "  in  that  journal 

and  in  book  form. 

1861-62.  Publication  of  "  The  House  of  the  Dead  "  (Vremya, 
1861,  Nos.  4,  Q-II;  and  1862,  Nos.  1-3,  5,  12). 
"  A  Silly  Story  "  (Vremya,  No.  n). 

1862.  Two  editions  in  book  form  of  "  The  House  of  the 
Dead." 

June  7:  Departure  for  abroad. 

Stays  in  Paris,  London  (meeting  with  Herzen),  and 
Geneva. 

1863.  "  Winter  Notes  on  Summer  Impressions  "  (Vremya, 
Nos.  2-3). 

In  May,  suppression  of  the  Vremya,  in  consequence  of 
an  article  by  Strachov  on  the  Polish  Question. 

During  the  summer,  travel  in  foreign  lands.  Stay  in 
Rome.  Plan  for  "  The  Gambler." 

Wife's  illness  during  the  winter. 

1864-65.  Direction  of  The  Epoch,  which  took  the  place  of  the 
Vremya. 

1864.  March  24:  Appears  the  first  number  of  The  Epoch. 
"From  the  Darkness  of  the  Great  City"  (Epoch,  Nos. 
1-2  and  4). 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  LIFE  xv 

1864.  April  16:  Death  of  his  wife. 

June  10:  Death  of  his  brother  Michael. 
December  25:  Death  of  his  friend  and  collaborator  ,. 
Apollon  Grigoryev. 

1865.  "  An  Unusual  Occurrence  "  (Epoch,  No.  2). 

At  the  end  of  July,  goes  abroad.  Begins  the  novel 
"  Rodion  Raskolnikov  "  ("  Crime  and  Punishment  "). 

Autumn  in  Wiesbaden. 

October:  Visit  to  Baron  Vrangel  at  Copenhagen. 

November:  Return  to  Russia.  Sale  of  his  author's 
rights  to  the  publisher  Stellovsky. 

1865-66.     First  Collected  Edition,  in  three  volumes.     Peters- 
burg: Stellovsky. 

Publication  of  "  Rodion  Raskolnikov"  ("  Crime  and 
Punishment  ")  in  the  Roussky  Viestnik  (Nos.  1-2,  4,  6, 
8,  11-12)  and  in  book  form. 

Summer  at  Lublin,  near  Moscow. 

End  of  the  year,  at  work  on  "  The  Gambler."  Inter- 
course with  the  stenographer  Anna  Grigorevna  Snitkin. 

1867.     February  15:  Marriage  to  A.  G.  Snitkin. 
1867-71.     Life  abroad. 

1867.  April  14:  Goes  abroad.     Two  months  in  Dresden. 
Article  on  Bielinsky  (not  preserved) . 

August  16:  Letter  to  Apollon  Maikov  on  the  quarrel 
with  Turgenev,  and  Dostoevsky's  losses  at  roulette. 

Plan  for  the  "  Diary  of  a  Writer."  (Letter  to  his 
niece  of  September  29.) 

At  the  end  of  the  year,  begins  "  The  Idiot." 

Third  edition  of  "  The  House  of  the  Dead  ";  second 
and  third  editions  of  "  Crime  and  Punishment." 

1868.  Publication  of  "  The  Idiot"  in  the  Roussky  Viestnik 
(Nos.  i,  2,  4-12)  and  in  book  form. 

Summer  in  Switzerland  and  Italy, 

Idea  of  a  novel  on  Atheism  (prototype  of  "  The 
Brothers  Karamazov").  Letters  about  this  to  Maikov 
and  his  niece. 

1869.  Beginning  of  the  year,  in  Florence.     Connection  with 
the  new  journal  Sarya,  and  lively  interest  in  Danilevsky's 
essay  on  "  Russia  and  Europe." 

1870.  "  The    Permanent    Husband "    (Sarya,    Nos.    i,    2). 
Beginning   of    "The    Possessed."     Fourth   edition     of 
"  Crime  and  Punishment." 

1871-72.     Publication  of  "  The  Possessed  "  (Roussky  Viestnik, 
1871,  Nos.  1-2,  4,  7,  9-12;  and  1872,  Nos.  11-12). 

1871.  July  8:  Return  from  abroad  to  Petersburg. 


xvi  CHRONOLOGICAL  TABLE 

1872.  Project  of  a  trip  to  the  East. 

"  The  Permanent  Husband  "  in  book  form. 

1873.  Joins  editorial  staff  of  Grajdanin  (The  Citizen),  and 
publishes  the  "  Diary  of  a  Writer  "  (first  sixteen  chapters) 
and  his  "  Survey  of  Foreign  Occurrences." 

"  The  Possessed  "  in  book  form. 

1874.  At  the  end  of  March,  arrest  for  infraction  of  the  Censor- 
ship regulations. 

Autumn  and  winter,  at  Staraya-Roussa.  Second 
edition  of  "  The  Idiot." 

Beginning  of  the  novel,  "  The  Hobbledehoy." 

1875.  "  The  Hobbledehoy  "  (Otetschestvennia  Zapiski,  Nos. 
i,  2,  4,  5,  9,  n,  12),  and  in  book  form. 

Fourth  edition  of  "  The  House  of  the  Dead." 
Summer  at  Ems. 
1876-77.     "  Diary  of  a  Writer." 

1876.  Summer  at  Ems. 

Article  (in  the  June  number  of  the  Diary)  on  the  Balkan 
Question,  and  Dostoevsky's  political  creed. 
"  The  Hobbledehoy  "  in  book  form. 

1877.  "  The  Little  Girl  "  (in  the  Supplement  to  Grajdanin). 
Summer  in  the  Kursk  Government. 

December  24:  "  Memento  for  My  Whole  Life." 

1878.  In  the  summer,  begins  "  The  Brothers  Karamazov." 
Fourth  edition  of  "  Crime  and  Punishment." 

1879-80.  Appearance  of  "  The  Brothers  Karamazov  " 
(Roussky  Viestnik,  1879,  Nos.  I,  2,  4-6,  8-n;  1880,  Nos. 
i,  4,  7-11),  and  in  book  form. 

1879.  Second  edition  of  the  "  Diary  of  a  Writer  "  from  the 
year  1876. 

Fifth  edition  of  "  Injury  and  Insult." 
In  June,  goes  with  Vladimir  Solovyov  to  the  monastery 
at  Optin. 

1880.  May  25 :  Banquet  of  Moscow  writers  and  journalists  in 
Dostoevsky's  honour. 

June  6  and  7 :  Festivities  at  Moscow  in  connection  with 
the  unveiling  of  the  Pushkin  Memorial. 

June  8:  Dostoevsky's  speech  on  Pushkin  at  the  meet- 
ing of  the  Society  of  Lovers  of  Russian  Literature.  Takes 
part  in  the  "  Pushkin  Evenings  "  got  up  by  the  Literary 
Fund. 

1881.  January  28:  At  8.38  o'clock  p.m.  Dostoevsky  dies. 
January   31:   Public  burial  in  the  Cemetery  of  the 

Alexander  Nevsky  Monastery  at  Petersburg. 


Letters  of 

Fyodor    Michailovitch 
Dostoevsky 

to  his  Family  and  Friends 


To  his  Father 

May  10,  1838. 
MY  DEAR  GOOD  FATHER, 

Can  you  really  think  that  your  son  is  asking 
too  much  when  he  applies  to  you  for  an  allowance  ? 
God  be  my  witness  that  not  for  self-interest,  nor  even 
in  actual  extremest  need,  could  I  ever  wish  to  despoil 
you  in  any  way.  How  bitter  it  is  to  have  to  ask  my 
flesh  and  blood  a  favour  which  so  heavily  oppresses 
them  !  I  have  my  own  head,  my  own  hands.  Were 
I  but  free  and  independent,  I  should  never  have 
asked  you  for  so  much  as  a  kopeck — I  should  have 
inured  myself  to  the  bitterest  poverty.  I  should 
have  been  ashamed  to  write  from  my  very  death-bed, 
asking  for  support.  As  things  are,  I  can  only  console 
you  with  promises  for  the  future;  however,  that  future 
is  no  longer  a  distant  one,  and  time  will  convince  you 
of  its  reality. 

At  present  I  beg  you,  dearest  Papa,  to  reflect  that 
in  the  literal  sense  of  the  word — I  serve.  I  must, 
whether  I  wish  it  or  not,  conform  to  the  obligations 
of  my  immediate  environment.  Why  should  I  set  up 
as  an  exception  ?  Such  exceptional  attitudes,  more- 
over, are  often  attended  by  the  greatest  unpleasant- 


2  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [I 

nesses.  You  will  readily  understand  this,  dear  Papa. 
You  have  mixed  enough  with  men  to  do  that.  And 
therefore  consider,  please,  the  following  points:  Life 
in  camp,  for  every  student  of  the  Military  Academy, 
demands  at  least  forty  roubles.  (I  write  this,  because 
I  am  addressing  my  father.)  In  that  sum  are  not 
included  such  necessities  as  tea,  sugar,  etc.  Yet  all 
those  things  I  must  have  as  well — assuredly  not  only 
as  comforts,  but  as  sheer  indispensables.  When  one 
has  to  sleep  in  a  canvas  tent  during  damp  and  rain, 
or  when,  in  such  weather,  one  returns  weary  and 
chilled  from  practice,  one  may  easily  fall  ill  for  want 
of  tea,  as  I  have  frequently  experienced  in  former 
years  at  these  times.  But  I  want  to  consider  your 
difficulties,  and  so  I  will  give  up  tea  altogether,  and 
ask  you  only  for  the  barest  necessary  of  all — sixteen 
roubles  for  two  pairs  of  ordinary  boots.  Again:  I 
must  keep  my  things,  such  as  books,  footgear,  writing 
materials,  paper,  etc.,  somewhere  or  other.  1  need 
for  that  a  trunk,  for  in  camp  there  is  no  kind  of  shelter 
but  the  tents.  Our  beds  are  bundles  of  straw  covered 
with  sheets.  Now  I  ask  you  where,  without  a  trunk, 
am  I  to  keep  my  things  ?  You  must  know  that  the 
Treasury  does  not  care  in  the  least  whether  I  have  one 
or  not.  For  the  exams  will  soon  be  over,  and  then 
I  shall  need  no  books;  and  as  it  is  supposed  to  look 
after  my  uniform,  I  ought  not  to  require  boots,  etc. 
But  how  can  I  pass  the  time  without  books  ?  and  the 
boots  with  which  we  are  supplied  are  so  bad  that 
three  pairs  scarcely  see  one  through  six  months,  even 
in  the  town. 

[Here   follows  a  further  catalogue   of  necessary 
purchases.] 

From  your  last  remittance  I  have  laid  by  fifteen 
roubles.    So  you  see,  dear  Papa,   that  I  need  at 


r 


JJOSTOKVSKY'S  KATHKR. 


JET.  16]  DEPRESSION  3 

least  twenty-five  more.  We  break  up  camp  in  the 
beginning  of  June.  If  you  will  stand  by  your  son 
in  his  bitter  need,  send  him  this  money  by  the  first 
of  June.  I  dare  not  insist  upon  my  petition:  I  am 
not  Basking  too  much,  but  my  gratitude  will  be 
boundless. 


II 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

PETERSBURG, 

August  9,  1838. 

[The  letter  begins  with  explanations  of  why 
Dostoevsky  has  not  written  to  his  brother  for  so 
long:  he  has  not  had  a  kopeck.] 

It  is  true  that  I  am  idle — very  idle.  But  what  will 
become  of  me,  if  everlasting  idleness  is  to  be  my  only 
attitude  towards  life  ?  I  don't  know  if  my  gloomy 
mood  will  ever  leave  me.  And  to  think  that  such 
a  state  of  mind  is  allotted  to  man  alone — the  atmo- 
sphere of  his  soul  seems  compounded  of  a  mixture 
of  the  heavenly  and  the  earthly.  What  an  unnatural 
product,  then,  is  he,  since  the  law  of  spiritual  nature 
is  in  him  violated.  .  .  .  This  earth  seems  to  me  a 
purgatory  for  divine  spirits  who  have  been  assailed 
by  sinful  thoughts.  I  feel  that  our  world  has  become 
one  immense  Negative,  and  that  everything  noble, 
beautiful,  and  divine,  has  turned  itself  into  a  satire. 
If  in  this  picture  there  occurs  an  individual  who 
neither  in  idea  nor  effect  harmonizes  with  the  whole 
— who  is,  in  a  word,  an  entirely  unrelated  figure — 
what  must  happen  to  the  picture  ?  It  is  destroyed, 
and  can  no  longer  endure. 

Yet  how  terrible  it  is  to  perceive  only  the  coarse 
veil  under  which  the  All  doth  languish  !  To  know 


4  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [n 

that  one  single  effort  of  the  will  would  suffice  to 
demolish  that  veil  and  become  one  with  eternity — to 
know  all  this,  and  still  live  on  like  the  last  and  least 
of  creatures.  .  .  .  How  terrible !  How  petty  is 
man !  Hamlet  !  Hamlet  !  When  I  think  of  his 
moving  wild  speech,  in  which  resounds  the  groaning 
of  the  whole  numbed  universe,  there  breaks  from  my 
soul  not  one  reproach,  not  one  sigh.  .  .  .  That  soul 
is  then  so  utterly  oppressed  by  woe  that  it  fears  to 
grasp  the  woe  entire,  lest  so  it  lacerate  itself.  Pascal 
once  said:  He  who  protests  against  philosophy  is 
himself  a  philosopher.  A  poor  sort  of  system  ! 

But  I  have  talked  enough  nonsense.  Of  your 
letters  I  have  had  only  two,  besides  the  last  of  all. 
Now,  brother,  you  complain  of  your  poverty.  I  am 
not  rich  either.  But  you  will  hardly  believe  that 
when  we  broke  up  camp  I  had  not  a  kopeck.  On 
the  way  I  caught  cold  (it  rained  the  whole  day  and 
we  had  no  shelter),  was  sick  with  hunger  as  well,  and 
had  no  money  to  moisten  my  throat  with  so  much  as 
a  sip  of  tea.  I  got  well  in  time,  but  I  had  suffered 
the  direst  need  in  camp,  till  at  last  the  money  came 
from  Papa.  I  paid  my  debts,  and  spent  the  rest. 

[Dostoevsky  enlarges  further  on  his  brother's  situa- 
tion and  his  own  financial  difficulties.] 

However,  it  is  time  to  speak  of  other  things.  You 
plume  yourself  on  the  number  of  books  you  have 
read.  .  .  .  But  don't  please  imagine  that  I  envy  you 
that.  At  Peterhof  I  read  at  least  as  many  as  you 
have.  The  whole  of  Hoffmann  in  Russian  and 
German  (that  is,  "  Kater  Murr,"  which  hasn't  yet  been 
translated),  and  nearly  all  Balzac.  (Balzac  is  great  ! 
His  characters  are  the  creations  of  an  all-embracing 
intelligence.  Not  the  spirit  of  the  age,  but  whole 
millenniums,  with  all  their  strivings,  have  worked 


MT,  17]  BALZAC  5 

towards  such  development  and  liberation  in  the  soul 
of  man.)  Besides  all  these,  I  read  Goethe's  "  Faust  " 
and  his  shorter  poems,  Polevois'  History,  "  Ugolino  " 
and  "  Undine  "  (I'll  write  at  length  about  "  Ugolino  " 
some  other  time),  and,  finally,  Victor  Hugo,  except 
"  Cromwell  "  and  "  Hernani."  Farewell.  Write  to 
me,  please,  as  often  as  you  possibly  can,  for  your 
letters  are  a  joy  and  solace.  Answer  this  at  once. 
I  shall  expect  your  reply  in  twelve  days  at  the  very 
latest.  Do  write,  that  I  may  not  utterly  languish. 

Thy  brother, 

F.  DOSTOEVSKY. 

I  have  a  new  plan:  to  go  mad.  That's  the  way: 
for  people  to  lose  their  heads,  and  then  be  cured  and 
brought  back  to  reason  !  If  you've  read  all  Hoff- 
mann, you'll  surely  remember  Alban.  How  do  you 
like  him  ?  It  is  terrible  to  watch  a  man  who  has 
the  Incomprehensible  within  his  grasp,  does  not 
know  what  to  do  with  it,  and  sits  playing  with  a 
toy  called  God  ! 

Ill 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

PETERSBURG, 

October  31,  1838. 

How  long  since  I've  written  to  you,  dear  brother  ! 
That  hateful  examination — it  prevented  me  from 
writing  to  you  and  Papa,  and  from  looking  up 
I.  N.  Schidlovsky.1  And  what  came  of  it  all  ?  I  have 
not  yet  been  promoted.  O  horror  !  to  live  another 
whole  year  in  this  misery  !  I  should  not  have  been 

1  I.  Nikolay  Schidlovsky,  a  Treasury  official,  who  wrote 
high-flown  poems  of  abstract-ideal  tendency.  He  later  ruined 
himself  by  drink. 


6  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [in 

so  furious  did  I  not  know  that  I  am  the  victim  of 
the  sheerest  baseness.  The  failure  would  not  have 
worried  me  so  very  much,  if  our  poor  father's  tears 
had  not  burned  into  my  soul.  I  had  not  hitherto 
known  the  sensation  of  wounded  vanity.  If  such  a 
feeling  had  got  hold  of  me,  I  might  well  have  blushed 
for  myself.  .  .  .  But  now  you  must  know  that  I 
should  like  to  crush  the  whole  world  at  one  blow.  .  .  . 
I  lost  so  much  time  before  the  examination,  and  was 
ill  and  miserable  besides ;  but  underwent  it  in  the  fullest 
and  most  literal  sense  of  the  word,  and  yet  have 
failed.  ...  It  is  the  decree  of  the  Professor  of 
Algebra,  to  whom,  in  the  course  of  the  year,  I  had 
been  somewhat  cheeky,  and  who  was  base  enough  to 
remind  me  of  it  to-day,  while  ostensibly  explaining  to 
me  the  reason  for  my  failure.  Out  of  ten  full  marks 
I  got  an  average  of  nine  and  a  half,  and  yet  I'm 
left.  .  .  .  But  hang  it  all,  if  I  must  suffer,  I  will.  .  .  . 
I'll  waste  no  more  paper  on  this  topic,  for  I  so  seldom 
have  an  opportunity  to  talk  with  you. 

My  friend,  you  philosophize  like  a  poet.  And  just 
because  the  soul  cannot  be  for  ever  in  a  state  of 
exaltation,  your  philosophy  is  not  true  and  not  just. 
To  know  more,  one  must  feel  less,  and  vice  versa. 
Your  judgment  is  feather-headed — it  is  a  delirium 
of  the  heart.  What  do  you  mean  precisely  by  the 
word  know  ?  Nature,  the  soul,  love,  and  God,  one 
recognizes  through  the  heart,  and  not  through  the 
reason.  Were  we  spirits,  we  could  dwell  in  that 
region  of  ideas  over  which  our  souls  hover,  seeking 
the  solution.  But  we  are  earth-born  beings,  and  can 
only  guess  at  the  Idea — not  grasp  it  by  all  sides  at 
once.  The  guide  for  our  intelligences  through  the 
temporary  illusion  into  the  innermost  centre  of  the 
soul  is  called  Reason.  Now,  Reason  is  a  material 
capacity,  while  the  soul  or  spirit  lives  on  the  thoughts 


JET.  17]    PHILOSOPHY  AND  THE  POET  7 

which  are  whispered  by  the  heart.  Thought  is  born 
in  the  soul.  Reason  is  a  tool,  a  machine,  which  is 
driven  by  the  spiritual  fire.  When  human  reason 
(which  would  demand  a  chapter  for  itself)  penetrates 
into  the  domain  of  knowledge,  it  works  independently 
of  the  feeling,  and  consequently  of  the  heart.  But 
when  our  aim  is  the  understanding  of  love  or  of 
nature,  we  march  towards  the  very  citadel  of  the 
heart.  I  don't  want  to  vex  you,  but  I  do  want  to 
say  that  I  don't  share  your  views  on  poetry  or  philo- 
sophy. Philosophy  cannot  be  regarded  as  a  mere 
equation  where  nature  is  the  unknown  quantity  ! 
Remark  that  the  poet,  in  the  moment  of  inspiration, 
comprehends  God,  and  consequently  does  the  philo- 
sopher's work.  Consequently  poetic  inspiration  is 
nothing  less  than  philosophical  inspiration.  Conse- 
quently philosophy  is  nothing  but  poetry,  a  higher 
degree  of  poetry  !  It  is  odd  that  you  reason  quite  in 
the  sense  of  our  contemporary  philosophy.  What  a 
lot  of  crazy  systems  have  been  born  of  late  in  the 
cleverest  and  most  ardent  brains  !  To  get  a  right 
result  from  this  motley  troop  one  would  have  to 
subject  them  all  to  a  mathematical  formula.  And 
yet  they  are  the  "  laws  "  of  our  contemporary  philo- 
sophy !  I  have  jabbered  enough.  And  if  I  look 
upon  your  flabby  system  as  impossible,  I  think  it 
quite  likely  that  my  objections  are  no  less  flabby,  so 
I  won't  bother  you  with  any  more  of  them. 

Brother,  it  is  so  sad  to  live  without  hope  !  When 
I  look  forward  I  shudder  at  the  future.  I  move  in 
a  cold  arctic  atmosphere,  wherein  no  sunlight  ever 
pierces.  For  a  long  time  I  have  not  had  a  single 
outbreak  of  inspiration.  .  .  .  Hence  I  feel  as  the 
Prisoner  of  Chillon  felt  after  his  brother's  death. 
The  Paradise-bird  of  poetry  will  never,  never  visit 
me  again — never  again  warm  my  frozen  soul.  You 


8  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [HI 

say  that  I  am  reserved;  but  all  my  former  dreams 
have  long  since  forsaken  me,  and  from  those  glorious 
arabesques  that  I  once  could  fashion  all  the  gilding 
has  disappeared.  The  thoughts  that  used  to  kindle 
my  soul  and  heart  have  lost  their  glow  and  ardency; 
or  else  my  heart  is  numbed,  or  else.  ...  I  am 
afraid  to  go  on  with  that  sentence.  I  won't  admit 
that  all  the  past  was  a  dream,  a  bright  golden  dream. 
Brother,  I  have  read  your  poem.  It  urged  some 
tears  from  my  soul,  and  lulled  it  for  a  while  by  the 
spell  of  memories.  You  say  that  you  have  an  idea 
for  a  drama.  I  am  glad  of  that.  Write  your  drama, 
then.  If  you  had  not  these  last  crumbs  from  the 
Elysiaijt  feast,  what  would  be  left  you  in  life  ?  I  am 
so  sorry  that  these  last  few  weeks  I  have  not  been 
able  to  look  up  Ivan  Nikolayevitch  (Schidlovsky) ; 
I  was  ill.  Now  listen.  I  think  that  the  poet's  in- 
spiration is  increased  by  success.  Byron  was  an 
egoist ;  his  longing  for  fame  was  petty.  But  the  mere 
thought  that  through  one's  inspiration  there  will  one 
day  lift  itself  from  the  dust  to  heaven's  heights  some 
noble,  beautiful  human  soul;  the  thought  that  those 
lines  over  which  one  has  wept  are  consecrated  as  by 
a  heavenly  rite  through  one's  inspiration,  and  that 
over  them  the  coming  generations  will  weep  in 
echo  .  .  .  that  thought,  I  am  convinced,  has  come  to 
many  a  poet  in  the  very  moment  of  his  highest 
creative  rapture.  But  the  shouting  of  the  mob  is 
empty  and  vain.  There  occur  to  me  those  lines  of 
Pushkin,  where  he  describes  the  mob  and  the  poet : 

"  So  let  the  foolish  crowd,  thy  work  despising,  scream, 
And  spit  upon  the  shrine  where  burns  thy  fire  supreme, 
Let  them  in  childish  arrogance  thy  tripod  set  a-tremble. . . ." 

Wonderful,  isn't  it  ?     Farewell. 

Your  friend  and  brother, 

F.  DOSTOEVSKY. 


JJT.  17]         DOSTOEVSKY'S  FATHER  9 

By  the  way,  do  tell  me  what  is  the  leading  idea 
in  Chateaubriand's  work,  "  Genie  du  Christianisme." 
I  read  lately  in  Ssyn  Otetschestva  an  attack  by  the 
critic  Nisard  on  Victor  Hugo.  How  little  the  French 
esteem  him  !  How  low  does  Nisard  rate  his  dramas 
and  romances  !  They  are  unfair  to  him ;  and  Nisard 
(though  he  is  so  intelligent)  talks  nonsense.  Tell  me, 
too,  the  leading  motive  of  your  drama;  I  am  sure  it 
is  fine. 

I  pity  our  poor  father  !  He  has  such  a  remarkable 
character.  What  trouble  he  has  had.  It  is  so  bitter 
that  I  can  do  nothing  to  console  him  !  But,  do  you 
know,  Papa  is  wholly  a  stranger  in  the  world.  He  has 
lived  in  it  now  for  fifty  years,  and  yet  he  has  the  same 
opinions  of  mankind  that  he  had  thirty  years  ago. 
What  sublime  innocence  !  Yet  the  world  has  dis- 
appointed him,  and  I  believe  that  that  is  the  destiny 
of  us  all.  Farewell. 

IV 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

PETERSBURG, 

January  i,  1840. 

I  thank  you  from  my  heart,  good  brother,  for  your 
dear  letter.  I  am  certainly  quite  a  different  sort  of 
person  from  you;  you  could  never  imagine  how 
delightfully  my  heart  thrills  when  they  bring  me  a 
letter  from  you,  and  I  have  invented  a  new  sort  of 
enjoyment:  I  put  myself  on  the  rack.  I  take  your 
letter  in  my  hand,  turn  it  about  for  some  minutes, 
feel  it  to  see  whether  it's  long,  and  when  I've  satiated 
myself  with  the  sealed  envelope,  I  put  it  in  my 
pocket.  You'd  never  guess  what  a  pleasant  state  of 
heart  and  soul  I  thus  procure  for  myself.  I  often 


io  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [iv 

wait  a  quarter  of  an  hour;  at  last  I  fall  greedily  upon 
the  packet,  unseal  it,  and  devour  your  lines — your 
dear  lines  !  Countless  feelings  awake  in  my  heart 
while  I  read  your  letter.  So  many  tender  and  pain- 
ful, sweet  and  bitter,  emotions  crowd  into  my  soul — 
yes,  dear  brother,  there  are  painful  and  bitter  ones. 
You  cannot  dream  how  bitter  it  is  for  me  when 
people  don't  understand  me,  when  they  mistake  what 
I  say,  and  see  it  in  the  wrong  light.  After  I  had 
read  your  last  letter,  I  was  quite  enragi  because  you 
were  not  near  me;  I  saw  the  dearest  dreams  of  my 
heart,  my  most  sacred  principles,  which  I  have  won 
by  hard  experience,  wholly  distorted,  mutilated,  de- 
formed. You  said  to  me  yourself:  "  Do  write  to  me, 
contradict  me,  dispute  with  me."  You  anticipated 
some  profit  therefrom.  Dear  brother,  it  has  not  been 
of  the  least  use  !  The  only  thing  that  you  have  got 
from  it  is,  that  in  your  egoism  (we  are  all  egoists,  for 
that  matter)  you  have  formed  just  such  an  opinion 
of  me,  my  views,  ideas,  and  peculiarities,  as  happens 
to  suit  yourself.  And  that  is  an  extremely  insulting 
one  !  No — polemics  in  intimate  letters  are  a  subtle 
poison.  How  will  it  be  now,  when  we  see  one  another 
again  ?  I  believe  that  all  this  will  be  subject  for 
endless  contention.  But  enough  of  it. 

Now  for  your  verses — hear  me  yet  again,  dear 
brother  !  I  believe  that  in  human  life  are  infinite 
pain  and  infinite  joy.  In  the  poet's  life  spring  thorns 
and  roses.  The  lyric  is  like  the  poet's  shadow,  always 
with  him,  for  he  is  an  articulate  creature.  Your  lyric 
poems  are  charming:  "  The  Walk,"  "  The  Morning," 
"  Visions  of  the  Mother,"  "  Roses,"  "  The  Horse  of 
Phoebus  " — these  and  many  others  are  lovely.  They 
are  all  like  a  vital  piece  of  news  from  you — and  a 
piece  of  news  that  moves  me  profoundly.  For  in 
those  days  I  could  understand  you  so  well;  and  they 


JET.  18]         HIS  BROTHER'S  VERSES  n 

are  months  which  have  stamped  themselves  deeply  in 
my  consciousness.  How  many  strange  and  wondrous 
things  had  I  just  then  lived  through  !  It  is  a  long 
story,  and  I  shall  never. tell  it  to  anyone. 

When  I  last  met  Schidlovsky  I  took  a  walk  with 
him  in  Ekaterinhof.  What  an  amazing  talk  we  had 
that  evening  !  We  were  recalling  the  past  winter, 
when  we  talked  much  of  Homer,  Shakespeare,  Schiller, 
and  Hoffmann — particularly  Hoffmann.  We  spoke 
of  ourselves  also,  of  the  future,  and  of  you,  my  dear 
fellow.  But  he  has  been  away  "a  long  time  now,  and 
I  have  no  news  of  him.  Is  he  still  alive  even  ?  For 
his  health  was  very  bad.  So  do  write  to  him  ! 

All  through  last  winter  I  was  in  a  strangely  exalted 
mood.  Intercourse  with  Schidlovsky  had  procured 
me  many  hours  of  fuller  life,  though  that  was  not 
the  only  reason  for  my  inspired  state.  You  were, 
perhaps,  hurt  with  me,  and  may  be  even  so  still, 
because  I  did  not  write  to  you  at  that  time.  Stupid 
service-matters  were  the  hindrance.  I  must  con- 
fess to  you,  my  dear  fellow,  that  though  I  have 
always  loved  you,  it  was  for  your  verses,  for  the 
poetry  of  your  life,  for  your  sufferings  .  .  .  that  was 
all.  It  was  neither  brother-love  nor  comrade-love. 
For  I  had  with  me  at  that  time  a  friend,  a  man, 
whom  I  did  love  so.  You  said  once,  brother,  that  I 
had  not  read  Schiller.  You  are  mistaken.  I  have 
him  by  heart,  I  have  spoken  his  speech  and  dreamed 
his  dreams;  and  I  believe  that  it  was  a  peculiarly 
good  stroke  of  luck  that  made  me  acquainted  with 
the  great  poet  in  that  special  period  of  my  life.  I 
could  never  have  learnt  to  know  Schiller  so  well  as 
precisely  in  those  days.  When  I  read  Schiller  with 
hint,  I  saw  in  him  the  noble  and  fiery  Don  Carlos, 
the  Marquis  Posa,  and  Mortimer.  That  friendship 
was  of  great  value  to  me,  and  has  caused  me  great 


12  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [iv 

pain.  But  I  desire  to  keep  silence  about  it  for  ever. 
The  name  of  Schiller  is  for  me  a  beloved  and  intimate 
password,  which  awakens  countless  memories  and 
dreams.  Those  memories  are  bitter,  and  that  is  why 
I  have  always  avoided  talking  with  you  about  Schiller 
and  the  impressions  which  I  owe  to  him.  Even  to 
hear  his  name  sets  my  heart  aching. 

I  meant  to  answer  other  of  your  reproaches,  and 
show  you  that  you  have  misunderstood  me.  About 
other  things  besides  I  wanted  to  speak;  but  as  I 
write  this  letter,  so. many  sweet  remembrances  and 
dreams  come  over  me  that  1  can  talk  of  nothing  else. 
Only  one  reproach  will  I  refer  to — namely,  that  those 
great  poets  whom,  according  to  you,  I  do  not  know 
at  all,  I  have  nevertheless  sought  to  compare  closely 
with  one  another.  I  never  drew  such  a  parallel  as  one 
between  Pushkin  and  Schiller.  I  can't  imagine  how 
you  came  to  think  so ;  pray  cite  me  the  passage  in  my 
letter;  it  is  just  possible  that  I  may  have  happened 
to  mention  the  names  of  Pushkin  and  Schiller  in  im- 
mediate juxtaposition,  but  I  believe  that  you  will 
find  a  comma  between  them.  They  have  no  smallest 
point  of  resemblance.  Now  between  Pushkin  and 
Byron  one  might  speak  of  a  likeness.  But  as  to 
Homer  and  Victor  Hugo,  I  positively  believe  that  you 
have  chosen  to  misunderstand  me  !  This  is  what  I 
meant :  Homer  (a  legendary  figure,  who  was  perhaps 
sent  to  us  by  God,  as  Christ  was)  can  only  be  placed 
with  Christ ;  by  no  means  with  Victor  Hugo.  Do  try, 
brother,  to  enter  truly  into  the  Iliad;  read  it  atten- 
tively (now  confess  that  you  never  have  read  it). 
Homer,  in  the  Iliad,  gave  to  the  ancient  world  the 
same  organization  in  spiritual  and  earthly  matters  as 
the  modern  world  owes  to  Christ.  Do  you  understand 
me  now  ?  Victor  Hugo  is  a  singer,  clear  as  an  angel, 
and  his  poetry  is  chaste  and  Christian  through  and 


JJT.  18]  HOMER  AND  HUGO  13 

through;  no  one  is  like  him  in  that  respect — neither 
Schiller  (if  Schiller  is  a  Christian  poet  at  all),  nor  the 
lyric  Shakespeare,  nor  Byron,  nor  Pushkin.  I  have 
read  his  Sonnets  in  French.  Homer  alone  has  the 
same  unshakable  belief  in  his  vocation  for  poetry 
and  in  the  god  of  poetry  whom  he  serves — in  that  sole 
respect  his  poetry  is  like  Victor  Hugo's,  but  not  in 
the  ideas  with  which  Nature  gifted  him,  and  which 
he  succeeded  in  expressing — I  never  meant  the  ideas 
at  all,  never.  I  even  think  that  Dershavin  stands 
higher  as  a  lyricist  than  either  of  those  two.  Fare 
well,  my  dear  fellow. 

P.S. — I  must  give  you  one  more  scolding.  When 
you  talk  about  form  in  poetry,  you  seem  to  me  quite 
crazy.  I  mean  it  seriously.  I  noticed  a  long  time 
ago  that  in  this  respect  you  are  not  wholly  normal. 
Lately  you  let  fall  a  remark  of  the  kind  about 
Pushkin;  I  purposely  did  not  take  it  up.  Of  your 
own  forms  I'll  speak  at  length  in  my  next  letter; 
now  I  have  neither  room  nor  time.  But  do  tell  me 
how,  when  you  were  talking  about  forms,  you  could 
advance  the  proposition  that  neither  Racine  nor 
Corneille  could  please  us,  because  their  forms  were 
bad  ?  You  miserable  wretch  !  And  then  you  add 
with  such  effrontery:  "  Do  you  think,  then,  that  they 
were  both  bad  poets  ?"  Racine  no  poet — Racine 
the  ardent,  the  passionate,  the  idealist  Racine,  no 
poet !  Do  you  dare  to  ask  that  ?  Have  you  read 
his  "  Andromaque " — eh  ?  Have  you  read  his 
"  Iphige"nie  "?  Will  you  by  any  chance  maintain 
that  it  is  not  splendid  ?  And  isn't  Racine's  Achilles 
of  the  same  race  as  Homer's  ?  I  grant  you,  Racine 
stole  from  Homer,  but  in  -what  a  fashion  !  How 
marvellous  are  his  women  !  Do  try  to  apprehend 
him.  You  say  "  Racine  was  no  genius;  how  could  he 


14  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [iv 

possibly  (?)  produce  a  drama  ?  He  could  only  imi- 
tate Corneille."  What  about  "  Phedre  ?"  Brother, 
if  you  won't  agree  that  "  Phedre  "  is  the  highest  and 
purest  poetry,  I  don't  know  what  I  shall  think  of  you. 
Why,  there's  the  force  of  a  Shakespeare  in  it,  if  the 
medium  is  plaster  of  Paris  instead  of  marble. 

Now  about  Corneille.  Listen  again,  brother  !  I 
really  don't  know  how  to  talk  to  you;  perhaps,  like 
Ivan  Nikiforovitch,1  I  ought  to  eat  a  substantial 
portion  of  herbs  first.  I  cannot  believe  that  you've 
read  him  at  all;  that's  why  you  talk  such  nonsense. 
Why,  don't  you  know  that  Corneille,  with  his  titanic 
figures  and  his  romantic  spirit,  nearly  approaches 
Shakespeare  ?  You  miserable  wretch !  Do  you 
happen  to  know  that  it  was  not  until  fifty  years  later 
than  the  inept  miserable  Jodelle  (author  of  that  dis- 
gusting'" Cleopatre  ")  and  Ronsard,  who  was  a  fore- 
warning of  our  own  Trediakovsky,  that  Corneille 
made  his  appearance,  and  that  he  was  almost  a  con- 
temporary of  the  insipid  poetaster  Malherbe  ?  How 
can  you  demand  form  from  him  ?  It  was  as  much 
as  one  could  expect  that  he  should  borrow  his  form 
from  Seneca.  Have  you  read  his  "  Cinna  "?  What, 
before  the  divine  figure  of  Octavius,  becomes  of  Karl 
Moor,  of  Fiesco,  of  Tell,  of  Don  Carlos  ?  That  work 
would  have  done  honour  to  Shakespeare.  You 
wretch  !  If  you  haven't  read  it  yet,  read  now  at 
least  the  dialogue  between  Augustus  and  Cinna, 
where  he  forgives  him  for  his  treachery.  Good 
Heavens  !  You  will  see  that  only  offended  seraphs 
could  so  speak.  Particularly  the  passage  where 
Augustus  says:  "  Soyons  amis,  Cinna."  Have  you 
read  his  "  Horace  "?  Decidedly  only  in  Homer  can 
you  find  such  figures.  Old  Horace  is  another 
Diomedes;  young  Horace  an  Ajax,  son  of  Telamon, 

1  The  hero  of  a  novel  by  Gogol. 


&r.  18]  CORNEILLE  15 

but  with  the  spirit  of  an  Achilles ;  Curias  is  Patrocles 
and  Achilles  in  one  person;  he  is  the  very  consum- 
mation of  conflicting  love  and  duty.  It's  all  so 
lofty  !  Have  you  read  "  Le  Cid  "?  Read  it,  un- 
happy man,  and  fall  in  the  dust  before  Corneille.  You 
have  blasphemed  him.  Anyhow,  read  him.  What 
does  the  romantic  stand  for,  if  it  doesn't  reach  its 
highest  development  in  the  "  Cid  "?  How  wonderful 
are  the  figures  of  Don  Rodrigo,  of  his  son,  and  of 
that  son's  beloved — and  then,  the  end  ! 

Please  don't  be  offended  with  me  for  my  insulting 
expressions;  don't  bear  me  ill-will,  as  Ivan  Ivanovitch 
Pererepenko  did  to  Gogol. 


V 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

September  30,  1844. 

[At  first  he  speaks  of  the  translation  of  Schiller, 
which  the  brothers  wished  to  publish.] 

Yes,  brother,  indeed  I  know  that  my  position  is 
desperate.  I  want  to  lay  it  before  you  now,  just  as  it 
is.  I  am  retiring  because  I  can  serve  no  longer.  Life 
delights  me  not  if  I  am  to  spend  the  best  part  of  it 
in  such  a  senseless  manner.  Moreover,  I  never  did 
intend  to  remain  long  in  the  service — why  should  I 
waste  my  best  years  ?  But  the  chief  point  is  that 
they  wanted  to  send  me  to  the  provinces.  Now,  tell 
me,  pray,  what  should  I  be  good  for,  out  of  Peters- 
burg ?  What  could  I  do  ?  You  will  assuredly 
understand  me  there. 

As  regards  my  future  life,  you  really  need  not  be 
anxious.  I  shall  always  find  means  to  support  my- 
self. I  mean  to  work  tremendously  hard.  And  I 


16  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [v 

am  free  now.  The  only  question  is  what  I  shall  do 
just  for  the  moment.  Think  of  it,  brother:  I  owe 
eight  hundred  roubles — five  hundred  and  twenty- 
five  for  rent.  (I  have  written  home  that  I  owe  one 
thousand  five  hundred,  for  I  know  the  gentry  there.1 
They  always  send  me  a  third  of  what  I  ask  for.) 
Nobody  knows  yet  that  I  am  retiring.  Now,  what 
shall  I  do  at  first,  when  I  am  no  longer  in  the  service  ? 
I  haven't  even  the  money  to  buy  civilian  clothes.  I 
retire  on  October  14.  If  I  don't  receive  money  from 
Moscow  at  once,  I  am  lost.  Seriously,  they  will  put 
me  in  prison — this  is  certain.  It's  a  quaint  situation. 

[There  is  further  discussion  of  how  he  shall  get 
money  from  his  relatives.] 

You  say  that  my  salvation  lies  in  my  drama.  But 
it  will  be  a  long  time  before  it's  played,  and  longer  still 
before  I  get  any  money  for  it.  Meanwhile,  my  re- 
tirement stares  me  in  the  face.  (My  dear  fellow,  if  I 
had  not  already  sent  in  my  papers,!  should  do  so  now; 
I  in  no  wise  regret  that  step.)  I  have  one  hope  more. 
I  am  just  finishing  a  novel,2  about  the  length  of 
"  Eugenie  Grandet."  It  is  most  original.  I  am  now 
making  the  fair  copy;  by  the  I4th  I  ought  certainly 
to  have  an  answer  from  the  editor.  I  want  to  bring 
it  out  in  the  Otetchestvennia  Zapiski.3  (I  am  well 
pleased  with  my  work.)  I  shall  probably  get  four 
hundred  roubles  for  it — that  is  all  I  hope  for.  I  would 
have  liked  to  tell  you  more  about  the  book,  but  I 
haven't  time.  (I  shall  certainly  produce  the  play, 
anyhow.  For  that  is  the  way  I  wish  to  make  a 
living.) 

The  Moscovians  are  incredibly  stupid,  conceited, 

1  His  father  was  now  dead,  and  an  uncle-in-law  acted  as 
Dostoevsky's  guardian. 

2  His  "  Poor  Folk."  3  "  Annals  of  the  Fatherland." 


£t.  22]  "  POOR  FOLK "  17 

and  priggish.  K.1  in  his  last  letter  advises  me,  with 
no  apparent  relevancy,  not  to  let  myself  be  so  carried 
away  by  Shakespeare.  He  says  that  Shakespeare  is 
only  a  soap-bubble.  I  wish  you  could  explain  to  me 
this  ridiculous  hostility  against  Shakespeare.  Why 
does  he  suddenly  drag  him  in  ?  You  should  have 
seen  the  answer  I  sent  him  !  It  was  a  model  in  the 
polemic  style.  I  gave  him  a  first-class  snubbing. 
My  letters  are  masterpieces  of  the  "  literary  art." 

Brother,  do,  for  God's  sake,  write  home  at  once  ! 
My  situation  is  desperate.  The  I4th  is  the  very 
utmost  limit  of  my  time;  I  sent  in  my  papers  six 
weeks  ago.  For  Heaven's  sake  write  to  them,  and 
tell  them  to  send  me  the  money  without  delay  !  It  is 
urgent,  for  otherwise  I  shall  have  no  clothes.  Chles- 
takov  (in  Gogol's  "  Revisor  ")  was  ready  to  go  to 
prison,  but  only  "  with  all  dignity."  Now,  how  can 
I,  barefoot,  go  to  prison  "  with  all  dignity  "?  .  .  . 

My  address :  By  the  Vladimirkirche,  care  of  Pryan- 
ischnikof,  Grafengasse. 

I  am  extraordinarily  pleased  with  my  novel — beside 
myself  with  joy.  For  it  I  shall  certainly  get  money; 
but  as  for  anything  else.  .  .  .  Forgive  this  inco- 
herent letter. 

VI 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

March  24,  1845. 

You  must  have  been  burning  with  impatience  for 
ever  so  long,  dearest  brother  The  uncertainty  of 
my  situation  prevented  me  from  writing.  I  can  give 
myself  up  to  no  employment,  when  only  uncertainty 
stares  me  in  the  face.  Not  that  I  have  yet  succeeded 
1  Dobteevsky's  guardian. 


i8  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [vi 

in  regulating  my  affairs  in  any  way;  but  despite  this 
unsettled  state  of  things,  I  will  write  to  you,  for  it  is 
so  long  since  I  have  sent  you  a  word. 

I  got  five  hundred  roubles  from  the  Moscow  folk. 
But  I  had  so  many  old  and  new  debts  that  the  money 
did  not  suffice  for  the  printing.  Still,  it  was  not  so 
bad.  I  could  either  go  on  credit  for  the  printing,  or 
else  pay  only  half  the  household  debts;  but  the  novel 
was  not  ready.  I  had  finished  it  in  November,  but 
in  December  I  decided  to  alter  it  radically.  I  did  so, 
and  wrote  it  out  fair  again ;  then  in  February  I  began 
once  more  to  fiddle  at  it,  polishing,  cutting,  adding. 
Towards  the  middle  of  March  I  was  ready,  and 
satisfied  with  my  work.  But  there  arose  a  fresh 
obstacle:  the  Censor  wanted  a  whole  month  for  the 
reading.  It  couldn't  be  done  quicker.  The  officials 
at  the  Censorship  are  said  to  be  loaded  down  with 
work.  I  didn't  know  what  to  do,  and  asked  for  the 
manuscript  back.  For  besides  the  four  weeks  for  the 
Censor,  I  had  to  reckon  on  three  more  for  the  print- 
ing. So  at  earliest  the  book  would  appear  in  May. 
That  would  have  been  too  late  !  Then  people  began 
to  urge  me  from  all  sides  to  send  the  novel  to  the 
Otetchestvennia  Zapiski.  It  would  have  been  mad- 
ness; I  should  certainly  have  rued  it.  In  the  first 
place,  they  wouldn't  have  read  the  manuscript  at  all, 
or,  if  they  had,  not  for  at  least  six  months.  They 
have  enough  manuscripts  lying  about  without  getting 
mine.  And  if  they  did  print,  I  shouldn't  get  a  penny 
for  it;  for  that  paper  is  a  pure  oligarchy.  What  do 
I  want  with  fame,  when  I'm  writing  for  daily  bread  ? 
I  took  a  desperate  resolve — to  wait  a  little  longer, 
and  in  the  meantime  incur  fresh  debts.  Towards  the 
beginning  of  September,  when  everyone  will  be  in 
Petersburg,  sniffing  about  like  bloodhounds  for  some- 
thing new,  I'll  try  with  my  last  kopeck  (which 


ST.  23]  "  POOR  FOLK "  19 

probably  won't  nearly  suffice)  to  get  the  book  printed. 
If  I  published  in  a  magazine,  I  should  come  under 
the  yoke  of  not  only  the  head  mattre  d'kdtel,  but  of 
all  the  kitchen  wenches  and  urchins  who  swarm 
wherever  culture  is  in  the  making.  It's  not  a  ques- 
tion pf  one  dictator,  but  twenty.  While  if  I  print 
the  novel  at  my  own  expense,  I  may  make  my  way 
by  my  own  ability;  and  if  the  book  is  good,  it  won't 
be  overlooked — it  may  even  get  me  out  of  debt,  and 
rescue  me  from  anxiety  about  the  means  of  sub- 
sistence. 

And  now  to  those  means  of  subsistence  !  You 
know  well,  dear  brother,  that  I  have  been  thrown  on 
my  own  resources  in  that  respect.  But  I  have  vowed 
to  myself  that,  however  hard  it  may  go  with  me,  I'll 
pull  myself  together,  and  in  no  circumstances  will  I 
work  to  order.  Work  done  to  order  would  oppress 
and  blight  me.  I  want  each  of  my  efforts  to  be 
incontrovertibly  good.  Just  look  at  Pushkin  and 
Gogol.  Both  wrote  very  little,  yet  both  have 
deserved  national  memorials.  Gogol  now  gets  a 
thousand  roubles  a  printed  page,  while  Pushkin  had, 
as  you  know  well,  as  much  as  a  ducat  a  line  of  verse. 
Both — but  particularly  Gogol — bought  their  fame  at 
the  price  of  years  of  dire  poverty.  The  old  school  is 
going  to  pieces;  and  the  new  school  doesn't  write — it 
scribbles.  Talent  is  universally  squandered  in  striv- 
ing after  a  "  broad  conception,"  wherein  all  one  can 
discover  is  a  monstrous  inchoate  idea  and  colossal 
muscular  effort.  There  is  hardly  any  real  serious  work 
in  the  business.  Beranger  said  of  the  modern  French 
feuilletonists  that  their  work  was  like  a  bottle  of 
Chambertin  in  a  bucket  of  water.  And  our  people 
are  the  same.  Raphael  worked  for  many  years  at 
each  picture,  and  lingered  long  over  every  detail, 
therefore  he  created  masterpieces.  Gods  grew  under 


20  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [vi 

his  brush  !  And  to-day  Vernet  gets  a  picture  ready 
in  a  month,  and  each  needs  a  huge  room,  built 
expressly.  The  perspective  is  grandiose,  the  concep- 
tion colossal — but  there's  not  a  ha'porth  of  serious 
work  in  the  thing.  They  are  all  no  better  than 
house-painters. 

I  am  really  pleased  with  my  novel.  It  is  a  serious 
and  well-constructed  work.  But  it  has  terrible  short- 
comings, too.  Seeing  it  in  print  will  make  up  to  me 
for  everything  else.  Now,  while  I  have  as  yet  no  new 
ideas,  I  should  rather  like  to  write  something  that 
would  introduce  me  to  the  public,  or  even  for  the 
mere  money's  sake;  not  that  I  should  at  all  wish  to 
write  rubbish,  but  for  anything  really  serious  I  need 
a  lot  of  time. 

It  is  getting  near  the  time,  my  dears,  that  I  had 
hoped  to  spend  with  you  all.  But  I  shall  not  have 
the  means,  that  is  the  money,  for  it.  I  have  decided 
to  stay  on  in  my  old  abode.  For  here  I  have,  at  any 
rate,  a  contract  with  the  landlord,  and  need  not  worry 
myself  about  anything  for  six  months.  It's  simply  a 
case  of  my  novel  covering  all  \  If  I  fail  in  this,  I'll 
hang  myself. 

I  should  like  to  have  saved  at  least  three  hundred 
roubles  by  August.  I  can  have  the  book  printed  for 
that.  But  the  roubles  run  about  like  crabs  in  every 
direction.  I  had  about  four  hundred  worth  of  debts 
(including  the  new  expenses  and  clothes);  now  I'm 
decently  dressed  for  at  least  two  years.  But  I  really 
will  come  to  you,  anyhow.  Write  as  soon  as  possible 
and  say  what  you  think  about  my  staying  on  here. 
It  is  a  crucial  question.  But  what  else  can  I  do  ? 

You  write  that  you  are  terrified  of  the  resourceless 

future.     But  Schiller  will  set  right  all  that,   and, 

besides,  my  novel  may  bring  in  something.     Write 

soon.    By  the  next  post  I'll  tell  you  all  my  decisions. 

*  *  *  *  # 


^T.  23]%  DRAMA  21 

Kiss  the  children  from  me,  and  greet  Emilie 
Fyodorovna.1  I  often  think  of  you  all.  Perhaps  it 
will  interest  you  to  know  what  I  do  when  I'm  not 
writing — well,  I  read.  I  read  a  great  deal,  and  it 
has  a  curious  effect  on  me.  When  I  re-read  anything 
that  I  knew  years  ago,  I  feel  fresh  powers  in  myself. 
I  can  pierce  to  the  heart  of  the  book,  grasp  it  entire, 
and  from  it  draw  new  confidence  in  myself.  Of 
the  writing  of  plays  I  don't  want  to  know  anything. 
To  do  one  I  should  need  years  of  repose  and  hard 
study.  It  is  easy  enough,  indeed,  to  write  plays  to- 
day ;  the  drama  is  more  like  melodrama.  Shakespeare 
disappears  in  the  fog.  He  looks,  amid  the  fumes  of 
our  wretched  modern  drama,  like  a  god,  or  a  spectre 
of  the  Brocken.  In  the  summer  I  shall,  nevertheless, 
perhaps  try  again  to  write  one.  Just  let  us  wait  two 
or  even  three  years  !  Brother,  in  literary  matters 
I  am  not  the  same  person  that  I  was  a  couple  of 
years  ago.  Then  it  was  all  childishness  and  folly. 
These  two  years  of  hard  study  have  taken  much  from 
me,  and  brought  much  to  me. 

In  the  Invalide  lately  I  read  in  the  feuilleton  about 
the  German  writers  who  died  of  hunger,  cold,  or  in 
a  mad-house.  They  were  twenty  in  all — and  what 
names!  Even  still  it  gives  me  the  creeps.  It's 
better  to  be  a  charlatan,  really.  .  .  . 

VII 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

May  4,  1845. 

DEAREST  BROTHER, 

Forgive  my  not  having  written  for  so  long. 
I  have,  as  usual,  had  such  a  confounded  lot  to  do. 
My  novel,  which  I  simply  can't  break  loose  from, 
1  Michael  Dostoevsky's  wife. 


22  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [vil 

keeps  me  endlessly  at  work.  If  I  had  known  before- 
hand how  it  would  be,  I  should  never  have  begun  it 
at  all.  I  decided  to  do  it  all  over  again,  and,  by 
God  !  that  has  improved  it  a  lot.  Now  I'm  ready 
with  it  once  more,  and  this  revision  is  really  the  last. 
I  have  given  myself  my  word  not  to  touch  it  again. 
After  all,  it's  the  fate  of  all  first  books  to  be  altered 
over  and  over  again.  I  don't  know  whether  Chateau- 
briand's "  Atala  "  was  his  first  book,  but  I  do  know 
that  he  re-wrote  it  seventeen  times.  Pushkin  did 
just  the  same  with  quite  short  poems.  Gogol  used 
to  polish  away  at  his  wonderful  works  for  two  years 
at  a  time,  and  if  you  have  read  the  "  Sentimental 
Journey,"  that  witty  book  by  Sterne,  you'll  very 
likely  remember  what  Walter  Scott,  in  his  article  on 
Sterne,  says  with  reference  to  Sterne's  servant,  La 
Fleur.  La  Fleur  declared  that  his  master  had  filled 
about  two  hundred  quires  of  paper  with  the  descrip- 
tion of  his  j  ourney  through  France.  Now,  the  ques- 
tion is,  What  became  of  all  that  paper  ?  The  result 
was  a  little  book,  for  writing  which  a  parsimonious 
person  (such  as,  for  example,  Plyushkin1)  would  have 
used  half  a  quire.  I  can't  understand  at  all  how  that 
same  Walter  Scott  could  turn  out  such  finished 
works  as  "  Mannering  "  in  a  few  weeks.  Perhaps 
only  because  at  that  time  he  was  forty  years  old. 

I  don't  in  the  least  know,  brother,  what  will  become 
of  me  !  You  judge  me  falsely  when  you  maintain 
that  my  situation  doesn't  trouble  me  a  bit.  It 
worries  me  frightfully,  and  I  often  cannot  sleep  for 
nights  and  nights  because  of  my  tormenting  thoughts. 
Wise  folk  tell  me  that  I  shall  come  to  the  ground 
if  I  publish  the  novel  as  a  book.  They  admit  that 
the  book  will  be  a  very  good  one,  but  say  that  I  am 

1  A  character  in  Gogol's  "  Dead  Souls  " — the  incarnation 
of  avarice. 


*r.  23      METHODS  OF  PUBLICATION  23 

no  business  man  .  .  .  and  that  the  booksellers  are 
usurers ;  that  they  will  rob  me  as  a  matter  of  course, 
and  I,  as  sure  as  death,  shall  let  them. 

For  these  reasons  I  have  resolved  to  bring  out  the 
novel  in  a  journal — for  example,  the  Otetchestvennia 
Zapiski.  That  has  an  edition  of  2,500  copies,  con- 
sequently it  is  read  by  at  least  100,000  people.  If 
I  let  the  novel  appear  in  this  journal,  my  literary 
career  and  my  whole  future  life  are  assured.  I  might 
easily  make  my  fortune  by  it.  And  thus  I  shall  gain 
a  firm  footing  in  the  paper,  and  shall  always  have 
money;  and  if  my  novel  appears  in  the  August  or 
September  number,  I  can  bring  it  out  as  a  book  on 
my  own  account  in  October,  and  that  with  the  certain 
prospect  that  everyone  who  buys  novels  at  all  will 
get  it.  Moreover,  the  advertisement  will  cost  me 
nothing.  Well,  so  things  stand  ! 

Until  I  have  arranged  for  the  novel,  I  cannot  come 
to  Reval;  I  don't  want  to  waste  any  of  my  time.  I 
must  not  flinch  at  any  amount  of  hard  work.  I  have, 
besides,  a  lot  of  new  ideas,  which  will  make  a  name 
for  me  in  literature  as  soon  as  my  first  book  has 
forged  a  path  for  me.  These  are,  in  short,  my  only 
views  for  the  future. 

But  as  to  money,  I  have  none,  alas  !  The  devil 
knows  where  it's  gone  to.  But,  at  all  events,  f  have 
few  debts.  .  .  . 

When  once  I  have  produced  the  novel,  I  shall 
easily  be  able  to  arrange  for  your  Schiller  translation 
also,  as  true  as  I  live  !  The  "  Juif  Errant  "  isn't  bad. 
But  Sue  strikes  me  as  very  limited  in  range. 

I  don't  like  to  speak  of  it,  dear  brother,  but  your 
situation  and  the  fate  of  your  Schiller  worry  me  so 
much  that  I  often  forget  my  own  anxieties.  And 
I  really  have  not  an  easy  time  of  it. 

If  I  can't  publish  the  novel,  I  shall  probably  go  into 


24  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [vm 

the  Neva.     What  else  should  I  do  ?     I  have  thought 
of  every  single  thing.     I  could  not  survive  the  death 
of  my  fixed  idea. 
Write  to  me  soon,  for  I  am  sick  of  myself. 


VIII 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

October  8,  1845. 

DEAREST  BROTHER, 

Until  now  I  have  had  neither  time  nor  spirits 
to  write  you  anything  about  my  own  affairs.  Every- 
thing was  disgusting  and  hateful,  and  the  whole  world 
seemed  a  desert.  In  the  first  place,  I  had  no  money 
all  the  time,  and  was  living  on  credit,  which  is  most 
unpleasant,  my  dear  and  only  friend.  In  the  second, 
I  was  in  that  wretched  mood  wherein  one  loses  all 
courage,  yet  does  not  fall  into  dull  indifference — 
rather,  which  is  much  worse,  thinks  a  great  deal  too 
much  about  one's  self,  and  rages  uncontrollably. 

At  the  beginning  of  this  month  Nekrassov1  came 
to  me  and  paid  me  back  part  of  his  debt;  the  rest 
I  am  to  have  in  a  few  days.  I  must  tell  you  that 
Bielinsky2  gave  me,  a  fortnight  ago,  a  comprehensive 
lesson  on  how  to  live  in  the  literary  world.  As  a  con- 
clusion he  told  me  that,  for  my  soul's  sake,  I  must 
not  ask  less  than  two  hundred  roubles  a  printed  sheet. 
In  that  case  my  "  Goliadkin  "3  would  bring  me  in  at 
least  fifteen  hundred  roubles.  Nekrassov,  who  was 

1  Nikolay  Alexeyevitch  Nekrassov  (1821-77),  a  noted  writer 
of  Liberal  tendencies ;  he  edited  from  1846  to  1866  the  monthly 
magazine  established  by  Pushkin,  Sovremennik  ( -  The  Con- 
temporary) . 

2  Vissarion  Grigoryevitch  Bielinsky,  a  most  distinguished 
Russian  critic,  of  extreme  Liberal  tendency. 

3  "  The  Double." 


JET.  24]  HOPES  OF  FAME  25 

evidently  conscience-stricken,  anticipated  him,  and 
promised  me  on  January  15  a  hundred  roubles  more 
for  my  "  Poor  Folk,"  which  he  has  acquired  from  me. 
He  felt  obliged  to  confess  to  me  himself  that  a  fee  of  a 
hundred  and  fifty  roubles  was  absolutely  un-Christian, 
so  he  has  raised  it  by  a  hundred. 

This  is  all  very  nice  indeed.  But  it  is  most  un- 
pleasant to  have  still  no  word  from  the  Censor  about 
"  Poor  Folk."  They  have  kidnapped  that  guileless 
novel,  and  I  don't  know  what  will  be  the  end  thereof. 
And  suppose  they  forbid  it  to  appear  ?  Or  strike  out 
every  word  of  it  ?  It  is  a  real  calamity  !  Nekrassov 
tells  me,  too,  that  his  Almanac  won't  be  able  to  appear 
at  the  right  time,  and  that  that  undertaking  has 
already  cost  him  four  thousand  roubles. 

Jakov  Petrovitch  Goliadkin  is  a  bad  hat  !  He  is 
utterly  base,  and  I  positively  can't  manage  him.  He 
won't  move  a  step,  for  he  always  maintains  that  he 
isn't  ready;  that  he's  mere  nothingness  as  yet,  but 
could,  if  it  were  necessary,  show  his  true  character; 
then  why  won't  he  ?  And  after  all,  he  says,  he's  no 
worse  than  the  rest.  What  does  he  care  about  my 
toil  ?  Oh,  a  terribly  base  fellow  !  In  no  case  can  he 
bring  his  career  to  a  finish  before  the  middle  of 
November.  He  has  already  had  an  interview  with 
His  Excellency,  and  is  not  disinclined  to  take  his 
leave — as,  indeed,  he  well  may.  Me,  his  poor  author, 
he  is  putting  in  a  hole. 

I  often  go  to  Bielinsky's.  He's  inordinately  affec- 
tionate, seeing  in  me  a  vindication  of  his  views  to  the 
public.  I  have  lately  made  the  acquaintance  of 
Kroneberg,  the  translator  of  Shakespeare  (he's  a  son 
of  the  old  Professor  from  Charkov).  My  future — and 
certainly  the  immediate  future — may  shape  itself,  on 
the  whole,  most  favourably,  but  may  also  turn  out 
very  badly  indeed.  Bielinsky  urges  me  to  finish  my 


26  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [vm 

"  Goliadkin."  He  has  already  spread  the  fame  of  that 
novel  through  the  entire  literary  world,  and  almost 
sold  it  to  Krayevsky.1  Half  Petersburg  is  talking  of 
"  Poor  Folk."  A  good  word  from  Grigorovitch2 
carries  weight,  and  he  said  to  me  myself  the  other 
day:  "  Je  suis  votre  claqueur-chauffeur." 

Nekrassov  is  always  full  of  wild  schemes.  It  is 
a  condition  of  his  being — he  was  born  like  that. 
Directly  he  arrived  here,  he  came  to  me  one  evening 
and  unfolded  a  plan  for  a  little  "  flying  "  Almanac 
into  which  the  whole  literary  community  should  put 
their  backs;  but  at  the  head  of  the  editorial  staff 
are  to  be  myself,  Grigorovitch,  and  Nekrassov.  The 
last  will  take  the  financial  risk.  The  Almanac  is  to 
consist  of  two  sheets,  and  to  appear  fortnightly — 
on  the  7th  and  2ist  of  the  month.  It  is  to  be  called 
Suboskal  (The  Scoffer}.  We  mean  to  ridicule  and  jeer 
at  everything  without  mercy — the  theatres,  news- 
p*apers,  society,  literature,  daily  happenings,  exhibi- 
tions, advertisements,  foreign  news — in  short,  every- 
thing; the  whole  is  to  be  done  with  one  tendency 
and  in  one  spirit.  The  first  number  is  to  appear  on 
November  7.  It  is  wonderfully  compounded.  In  the 
first  place,  there  are  to  be  illustrations  as  well.  As 
motto  we  take  the  famous  words  of  Bulgarin3  in  his 
feuilleton  in  the  S&vernala  Ptchela  (Northern  Bee] : 
"  We  are  ready  to  die  for  the  truth,  for  we  cannot 
live  without  truth,"  etc.  Underneath  we  shall  put 
Faddey  Bulgarin's  signature.  The  prospectus,  which 
will  appear  on  November  i,  will  have  the  same  motto. 
The  first  number  will  contain  the  following  contri- 

1  Editor  of  the  Otetchestvennia  Zapiski. 

2  Dmitri   Vassilivitch   Grigorovitch    (1822-99),    a   popular 
writer;  author  of  numerous  romances  and  novels.     A  col- 
league of  Dostoevsky  in  the  College  of  Engineering. 

3  Faddey  Bulgarin  (1789-1859),  a  journalist  in  the  pay  of 
the  police;  hated  and  feared  as  a  denouncer  and  secret  agent. 


£.1.  24]  A  SATIRIC  PAPER  27 

butions:  A  sort  of  "  send-off,"  by  Nekrassov,  "  On 
Certain  Petersburg  Basenesses "  (those,  of  course, 
which  have  just  then  been  perpetrated) ;  an  "  antici- 
pated "  novel  by  Eugene  Sue,  "  The  Seven  Deadly 
Sins"  (the  whole  thing  will  be  in  three  pages);  a 
review  of  all  the  journals;  a  lecture  "  after  "  Schevi- 
rov,  on  Pushkin's  verses:  they  are  so  harmonious, 
that  when  Schevirov  once  at  the  Coliseum  in  Rome, 
in  company  with  some  ladies,  recited  a  few  strophes, 
all  the  frogs  and  lizards  that  house  there  came  creep- 
ing out  to  hear  the  wondrous  stanzas  (Schevirov  gave 
just  such  a  discourse  in  the  Moscow  University). 
Then  comes  a  report  of  the  last  sitting  of  the  Society 
of  Slavophils,  whereat  it  was  solemnly  maintained 
that  Adam  was  a  Slav  and  lived  in  Russia;  it  will  be 
pointed  out  how  important  and  useful  is  the  settling 
of  this  question  for  the  well-being  of  the  whole  Russian 
nation.  In  the  art  section,  our  Suboskal  will  declare 
itself  at  one  with  Kukolnik's  Illustration,  and  call 
particular  attention  to  the  following  passage  in  that 
journal  [one  where  the  letters  and  words  were  printed 
upside  down  and  in  the  wrong  order],  for  it  is  well 
known  that  the  Illustration  is  so  badly  edited  and 
proof-read  that  topsy-turvy  letters  and  words  running 
into  one  another  are  quite  normal  occurrences.  Grigo- 
rovitch  will  write  a  "  Chronicle  of  the  Week,"  and 
take  a  rise  out  of  people  with  his  "  things  seen."  I 
am  to  write  "  Observations  of  a  Valet  on  his  Master." 
The  paper  will,  as  you  see,  be  highly  diverting — 
something  in  the  style  of  the  Gulpes  of  Alphonse  Karr. 
The  notion  is  dazzling,  for  to  me  alone  will  come,  at 
the  very  lowest  estimate,  from  a  hundred  to  a  hundred 
and  fifty  roubles  a  month.  The  sheet  will  succeed. 
Nekrassov  will  do  some  verse,  too. 

...  On  no  account  miss  reading  "  Teverino  "  (by 
George   Sand,    in    the    Otetchestvennia   Zapiski    for 


28  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [ix 

October).  There  has  been  nothing  like  it  in  our 
century.  It  gives  us  absolute  archetypes  of  human 
character.  .  .  . 

IX 
To  his  Brother  Michael 

November  16,  1845. 

DEAREST  BROTHER, 

I  write  in  great  haste,  for  my  time  is  very 
short.  "  Goliadkin  "  is  still  not  ready,  but  I  abso- 
lutely must  have  him  finished  by  the  25th.  You 
haven't  written  to  me  for  so  long  that  I  have  been 
worried  about  you.  Do  write  oftener;  what  you  say 
about  lack  of  time  is  nonsense.  Does  one  really  need 
much  time  to  write  a  letter  ?  Provincial  life,  with 
its  eternal  do-nothingness,  is  simply  ruining  you,  my 
dear  fellow — that's  all. 

Well,  brother,  I  believe  that  my  fame  is  just  now 
in  its  fullest  flower.  Everywhere  I  meet  with  the 
most  amazing  consideration  and  enormous  interest. 
I  have  made  the  acquaintance  of  a  lot  of  very  im- 
portant people.  Prince  Odoyevsky  begs  me  for  the 
honour  of  a  visit,  and  Count  Sollogub  is  tearing  his 
hair  in  desperation.  Panayev  told  him  that  a  new 
genius  had  arisen  who  would  sweep  all  the  rest  away. 
S.  tore  round,  called  on  Krayevsky  among  others,  and 
asked  him  quite  bluntly:  "Who  is  Dostoevsky  ? 
Where  can  I  get  hold  of  Dostoevsky  ?"  Krayevsky, 
who  is  without  respect  of  persons  and  snubs  every- 
body, gave  him  for  answer:  "Dostoevsky  won't  be 
at  all  inclined  to  give  you  the  honour  and  pleasure  of 
his  acquaintance."  It  was  just  the  right  word,  for  the 
youngster  is  now  on  his  high  horse,  and  hopes  to 
crush  me  to  the  earth  with  his  gracious  condescension. 
Everybody  looks  upon  me  as  a  wonder  of  the  world. 


ST.  24]  FAME  AND  ELATION  29 

If  J  but  open  my  mouth,  the  air  resounds  with  what 
Dostoevsky  said,  what  Dostoevsky  means  to  do. 
Bielinsky  loves  me  unboundedly.  The  writer  Tur- 
genev,  who  has  just  returned  from  Paris,  has  from  the 
first  been  more  than  friendly;  and  Bielinsky  declares 
that  Turgenev  has  quite  lost  his  heart  to  me.  T.  is 
a  really  splendid  person  !  I've  almost  lost  my  own 
heart  to  him.  A  highly  gifted  writer,  an  aristocrat, 
handsome,  rich,  intelligent,  cultured,  and  only  twenty- 
five — I  really  don't  know  what  more  he  could  ask 
from  fate.  Besides  all  that,  he  has  an  unusually 
upright,  fine,  well-disciplined  nature.  Do  read  his 
story,  "  Andrey  Kolossov,"  in  the  Otetchestvennia 
Zapiski.  The  hero  is  himself,  though  he  did  not 
intend  to  depict  his  own  character. 

I  am  not  rich  yet,  though  I  can't  complain  of 
poverty.  Lately  I  was  quite  penniless  for  the 
moment;  Nekrassov  has  since  then  taken  up  the 
idea  of  publishing  a  most  attractive  sort  of  humorous 
Almanac,  to  be  called  Suboskal,  and  I  have  written 
the  prospectus.  It  made  a  great  sensation,  for  it 
is  the  first  attempt  there  has  been  to  write  such 
productions  in  a  light  and  humorous  manner.  It 
reminded  me  of  the  first  feuilleton  of  Lucien  de 
Rubempre.1  It  has  already  appeared  in  the  0.  Z., 
and  in  another  paper.  I  got  twenty  roubles  for  the 
job.  When  I  found  myself  without  a  penny  in  my 
pocket,  I  went  to  call  on  Nekrassov.  While  I  was 
sitting  with  him,  I  had  a  sudden  idea  of  writing  a 
novel  in  nine  letters.  As  soon  as  I  got  home,  I  wrote 
it  in  one  night:  it  takes  about  half  a  sheet.  In  the 
morning  I  took  the  manuscript  to  Nekrassov,  and 
got  125  roubles  for  it,  so  the  Suboskal  pays  me  at 
the  rate  of  250  roubles  a  sheet.  In  the  evening  my 
novel  was  read  aloud  in  our  circle — that  is,  before  an 
1  In  Balzac's  "  Illusions  perdues." 


30  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [ix 

audience  of  twenty,  and  had  a  colossal  success.  It 
will  appear  in  the  first  number  of  the  Suboskal. 
I'll  send  you  the  number  for  December  i.  Bielinsky 
says  he  is  quite  sure  of  me  now,  for  I  have  the  faculty 
of  grasping  the  most  diverse  subjects.  When  Kra- 
yevsky  heard  lately  that  I  had  no  money,  he  begged 
me  quite  humbly  to  accept  a  loan  of  500  roubles. 
I  think  that  I  shall  get  200  roubles  a  sheet  from 
him. 

I  have  a  lot  of  new  ideas — and  if  I  confide  any  of 
them  to  anybody,  for  instance  Turgenev,  by  next 
morning  it  will  be  rumoured  in  every  corner  of 
Petersburg  that  Dostoevsky  is  writing  this  or  that. 
Indeed,  brother,  if  I  were  to  recount  to  you  all 
my  triumphs,  this  paper  would  by  no  means  suffice. 
I  think  that  I  shall  soon  have  plenty  of  money. 
"  Goliadkin  "  thrives  mightily:  it  will  be  my  master- 
piece. Yesterday  I  was  at  P.'s  house  for  the  first 
time,  and  I  have  a  sort  of  idea  that  I  have  fallen  in 
love  with  his  wife.  She  is  wise  and  beautiful, 
amiable,  too,  and  unusually  direct.  I  am  having  a 
good  time.  Our  circle  is  very  extensive.  But  I'm 
writing  about  nothing  but  myself — forgive  me,  dear 
fellow;  I  will  frankly  confess  to  you  that  I  am  quite 
intoxicated  by  my  fame.  With  my  next  letter  I'll 
send  you  the  Suboskal.  Bielinsky  says  that  I  pro- 
faned myself  by  collaborating  in  it. 

Farewell,  my  friend,  I  wish  you  luck,  and  con- 
gratulate you  on  your  promotion.  I  kiss  the  hands 
of  your  Emilie  Fyodorovna,  and  hug  the  children. 
How  are  they  all  ? 

P.S. — Bielinsky  is  keeping  the  publishers  from 
tearing  me  to  pieces.  I've  read  this  letter  over,  and 
come  to  two  conclusions — that  I  write  atrociously, 
and  that  I'm  a  boaster. 


JET.  24]    RECEPTION  OF  "  POOR  FOLK  "        31 

Farewell,  and  for  God's  sake,  write.  Our  Schiller 
will  certainly  come  off.  Bielinsky  praises  the  idea  of 
publishing  the  collected  works.  I  believe  that  in 
time  I  shall  be  able  to  make  good  terms  for  the 
work — perhaps  with  Nekrassov.  Farewell. 

All  the  Minnas,  Claras,  Mariannas,  etc.,  have  got 
amazingly  pretty,  but  cost  a  lot  of  money.  Turgenev 
and  Bielinsky  lately  gave  me  a  talking  to  about  my 
disorderly  way  of  life.  Those  fellows  really  don't 
know  how  they  can  best  prove  their  affection — they 
are  all  in  love  with  me. 


X 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

February  i,  1846. 

DEAREST  BROTHER, 

To  begin  with,  don't  be  angry  because  I 
haven't  written  for  so  long.  I  swear  to  God  that 
I've  had  no  time,  as  I  shall  now  show  you.  I  was 
prevented  chiefly  by  that  rascal  "  Goliadkin,"  with 
whom  I  never  finished  till  the  28th.  It's  frightful  ! 
And  it's  always  the  same  whenever  one  promises 
one's-self  anything.  I  meant  to  get  done  with  him 
in  August,  but  had  to  put  off  till  February.  Now 
I  am  sending  you  the  Almanac.  "  Poor  Folk  " 
appeared  on  the  I5th.  If  you  only  knew,  brother, 
how  bitterly  the  book  has  been  abused !  The 
criticism  in  the  Illustration  was  one  unbroken 
tirade.  And  that  in  the  Severna'ia  Ptchela  (Northern 
Bee]  is  incredible,  too;  but  at  all  events,  I  can  remind 
myself  how  Gogol  was  received  by  the  critics,  and 
we  both  know  the  things  that  were  written  about 
Pushkin.  Even  the  public  is  quite  furious:  three- 
fourths  of  my  readers  abuse,  and  a  quarter  (or  even 


32  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [x 

less)  praise  the  book  beyond  measure.  It  is  the 
subject  of  endless  discussion.  They  scold,  scold, 
scold,  yet  they  read  it.  (The  Almanac  has  gone  off 
amazingly  well.  The  whole  edition  is  certain  to  be 
sold  out  in  a  fortnight.)  And  it  was  the  same  with 
Gogol.  They  abused,  abused,  but  read  him.  Now 
they've  made  up  that  quarrel,  and  praise  him.  I've 
thrown  a  hard  bone  to  the  dogs,  but  let  them  worry 
at  it — fools  !  they  but  add  to  my  fame.  The  notice 
in  the  Northern  Bee  is  a  disgrace  to  their  critic:  It's 
stupid  beyond  belief.  But  then,  the  praise  I  get, 
too  !  Only  think,  all  our  lot,  and  even  Bielinsky, 
consider  that  I  have  far  surpassed  Gogol.  In  the 
Book-lover's  Library,  where  the  critiques  are  written 
by  Nikitenko,  there  is  soon  to  be  a  very  long  and 
favourable  notice  of  "  Poor  Folk."  Bielinsky  will 
ring  a  full  peal  in  March.  Odoyevsky  is  devoting 
his  whole  article  to  '•'  Poor  Folk  "  alone;  my  friend 
Sollogub  likewise.  So  I'm  in  the  empyrean,  brother, 
and  three  months  hence  I'll  tell  you  in  person  of  all 
my  experiences. 

Our  public,  like  the  crowd  everywhere,  has  good 
instincts,  but  no  taste.  They  cannot  understand  how 
anyone  can  write  in  such  a  style.  They  are  accus- 
tomed to  be  treated,  in  every  work,  to  the  author's 
own  fads  and  fancies.  Now  I  have  chosen  not  to 
show  mine.  They  will  not  perceive  that  this  or 
that  view  is  expressed  by  Dyevuschkin,  not  by  me, 
and  that  he  could  not  speak  otherwise.  They  find 
the  book  too  drawn  out,  and  yet  there  is  not  a  single 
superfluous  word  in  it.  Many,  like  Bielinsky,  think 
very  original  my  manner  of  proceeding  by  analysis 
rather  than  by  synthesis — that  is,  I  pierce  to  the 
depths,  trace  out  the  atoms,  and  from  them  construct 
the  whole.  Gogol  always  works  on  the  broad  lines, 
and  so  he  never  goes  as  deep  as  I  do.  When  you 


^x.  24]  BAD  HEALTH  33 

read  my  book,  you'll  see  this  for  yourself.  I  have  a 
brilliant  future  before  me!  Today  my  "  Goliad- 
kin  "  appears.  Four  days  ago  I  was  still  working  at 
him.  He  will  fill  eleven  sheets  of  the  Otetschest- 
vennia  Zapiski.  "  Goliadkin  "  is  ten  times  better  than 
"  Poor  Folk."  Our  lot  say  that  there  has  been 
nothing  like  it  in  Russia  since  "  Dead  Souls,"  and 
that  it  is  a  truly  brilliant  achievement;  they  even 
say  more.  What  don't  they  look  for  from  me ! 
"  Goliadkin  "  really  has  come  off  well.  You  will  be 
sure  to  like  him  enormously.  Do  they  take  the  0.  Z. 
in  your  part  of  the  world  ?  I  don't  know  if  Krayevsky 
will  give  me  a  free  copy. 

I  haven't  written  to  you  for  so  long,  dear  brother, 
that  I  really  don't  know  what  I  told  you  last.  So 
much  has  been  happening  !  We  shall  soon  see  one 
another  again.  In  the  summer  I  shall  positively  come 
to  you,  my  friends,  and  shall  write  tremendously  the 
whole  time.  I  have  ideas;  and  I'm  writing  now,  too. 

For  "  Goliadkin  "  I  got  exactly  600  roubles.  And 
I've  earned  a  lot  of  money  besides,  so  that  since 
our  last  meeting  I've  run  through  more  than 
3,000  roubles.  I  do  live  in  a  very  disorderly  way, 
and  that's  the  truth  !  .  .  .  My  health  is  utterly 
shattered.  I  am  neurotic,  and  dread  low  fever.  I  am 
so  dissolute  that  I  simply  can't  live  decently  any 
more.  .  .  . 

XI 
To  his  Brother  Michael 

April  i,  1846. 

You  do  reproach  me,  don't  you,  because  I  have  not 
written  for  so  long  ?  But  I  take  my  stand  upon 
Poprischtschin's1  saying:  "  Letters  are  rubbish;  only 

1  Hero  of  Gogol's  "  Memoirs  of  a  Madman." 

3 


34  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xi 

apothecaries  write  letters."  What  could  I  have  said 
to  you  ?  If  I  had  told  all  I  had  to  tell,  it  would  have 
taken  volumes.  Every  day  brings  me  so  much  that 
is  new,  so  many  changes  and  impressions,  agreeable 
and  disagreeable,  lucky  and  unlucky,  matters,  that 
I  have  no  time  to  reflect  upon  them.  In  the  first 
place,  I'm  always  busy.  I  have  heaps  of  ideas,  and 
write  incessantly.  But  don't  imagine  that  mine  is 
a  bed  of  roses.  Far  from  it.  To  begin  with,  I've 
spent  a  very  great  deal  of  money — that  is  to  say, 
exactly  4,500  roubles — since  our  last  meeting,  and 
got  about  a  thousand  for  my  wares.  Thus,  with  that 
economy  of  mine  which  you  know  so  well,  I  have 
positively  robbed  myself,  and  so  it  often  happens  that 
I  am  quite  penniless.  .  .  . 

But  that  doesn't  signify.  My  fame  has  reached  its 
highest  point.  In  the  course  of  two  months  I  have, 
by  my  own  reckoning,  been  mentioned  five-and-thirty 
times  in  different  papers.  In  certain  articles  I've  been 
praised  beyond  measure,  in  others  with  more  reserve, 
and  in  others,  again,  frightfully  abused.  What  could 
I  ask  for  more  ?  But  it  does  pain  and  trouble  me 
that  my  own  friends,  Bielinsky  and  the  others,  are 
dissatisfied  with  my  "  Goliadkin."  The  first  impres- 
sion was  blind  enthusiasm,  great  sensation,  and  endless 
argument.  The  second  was  the  really  critical  one. 
They  all — that  is,  my  friends  and  the  whole  public — 
declare  with  one  voice  that  my  "  Goliadkin  "  is  tedious 
and  thin,  and  so  drawn-out  as  to  be  almost  unread- 
able. One  of  our  lot  is  now  going  in  for  the  perusal 
of  one  chapter  a  day,  so  that  he  may  not  tire  himself, 
and  in  this  way  he  smacks  his  lips  with  joy  over  it. 
Some  of  the  public  say  emphatically  that  the  book 
is  quite  impossible,  that  no  one  could  really  read  it, 
that  it's  madness  to  write  and  print  such  stuff;  others, 
again,  declare  that  everything  is  from  the  life,  and 


JET.  24]  SHORT,  STORIES  35 

that  they  recognize  themselves  in  the  book;  now 
and  again,  it  is  true,  I  hear  such  hymns  of  praise  that 
I  should  be  ashamed  to  repeat  them.  As  to  myself, 
I  was  for  some  time  utterly  discouraged.  I  have 
one  terrible  vice:  I  am  unpardonably  ambitious  and 
egotistic.  The  thought  that  I  had  disappointed  all 
the  hopes  set  on  me,  and  spoilt  what  might  have 
been  a  really  significant  piece  of  work,  depressed  me 
very  heavily.  The  thought  of  "  Goliadkin  "  made  me 
sick.  I  wrote  a  lot  of  it  too  quickly,  and  in  moments 
of  fatigue.  The  first  half  is  better  than  the  second. 
Alongside  many  brilliant  passages  are  others  so  dis- 
gustingly bad  that  I  can't  read  them  myself.  All 
this  put  me  in  a  kind  of  hell  for  a  time;  I  was  actually 
ill  with  vexation.  Dear  brother,  I'll  send  you  the 
book  in  a  fortnight.  Read  it,  and  give  me  your  honest 
opinion. 

I'll  go  over  my  life  and  work  of  late  and  tell  you 
some  bits  of  news: 

ist.  A  big  bit:  Bielinsky  is  giving  up  the  editor- 
ship of  the  0.  Z.  His  health  is  sadly  shattered,  and 
he  is  going  to  a  spa,  perhaps  in  foreign  parts.  For  a 
couple  of  years  or  so  he  will  write  no  criticism  at  all. 
To  bolster  up  his  finances,  he  is  publishing  an  Almanac 
of  fabulous  size — sixty  sheets.  I  am  writing  two  tales 
for  him:  "  The  Whiskers  that  were  Shaved  Off,"  and 
"  The  Story  of  the  Abolished  Public  Offices."  Both 
are  overwhelmingly  tragic,  and  extraordinarily  inter- 
esting— told  most  curtly.  The  public  awaits  them 
eagerly.  Both  are  short  tales.  .  .  .  Besides  these,  I 
am  to  do  something  for  Krayevsky,  and  write  a  novel 
for  Nekrassov.  The  whole  lot  will  take  about  a  year. 
The  "  Whiskers  "  are  ready  now. 

2nd  bit  of  news:  A  whole  crowd  of  newrwriters 
have  popped  up.  In  some  I  divine  rivals.  Particu- 
larly interesting  are  Herzcii  (Iskander)  and  Gont- 


36  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xn 

scharov.  Herzen  has  published  some  things. 
Gontscharov  is  only  beginning,  and  has  not  yet  been 
printed.  Both  are  immensely  praised.  But  at 
present  I  have  the  top  place,  and  hope  to  keep  it  for 
ever.  In  literary  life  there  was  never  such  activity  as 
now.  It  is  a  good  sign. 

[Here  follow  some  unimportant  details  of  Dos- 
toevsky's  life.  He  gives  his  brother,  among  other 
things,  the  advice  to  translate  Goethe's  "  Reineke 
Fuchs."] 

XII 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

September  17,  1846. 

I  have  already  told  you  that  I've  rented  a  house. 
I'm  not  in  distress,  but  I  have  no  outlook  for  the 
future.  Krayevsky  has  given  me  fifty  roubles,  but  I 
could  read  in  his  face  that  he'll  give  me  no  more,  so  I 
shall  have  a  pretty  stiff  time. 

In  a  certain  quarter  (the  Censorship)  they  have 
mutilated  my  "  Prochartschin  "  frightfully.  The  gen- 
tlemen have  even — God  knows  why — struck  out  the 
wosd  "  official."  The  whole  thing  was,  for  that  matter, 
entirely  without  offence,  yet  they've  cut  it  to  pieces. 
They've  simply  killed  the  book  dead.  There  is  only 
a  skeleton  left  of  what  I  read  to  you.  Henceforth  I 
renounce  that  work  of  mine.  ...  I  am  still  writing 
at  the  "  Whiskers."  The  work  goes  very  slowly.  I 
fear  it  won't  be  ready  in  time.  I  heard  from  two 
men,  namely  Grigorovitch  and  a  certain  Beketov  II., 
that  the  Petersburg  Almanac1  is  known  in  the 
provinces  only  by  the  name  of  "  Poor  Folk."  The 
rest  of  the  contents  don't  interest  people  in  the  least ; 

1  Peterbourgsky  Shornik. 


MT.  25]     SHORT  STORIES  ABANDONED         37 

and  the  sale  in  the  provinces  is  colossal,  they  often 
pay  double  prices.  At  the  booksellers'  in  Pensa  and 
Kiev,  for  instance,  the  Almanac  is  officially  priced  at 
from  25  to  30  roubles.  It  is  really  remarkable;  here 
the  book  fell  flat,  and  there  they  scramble  for  it. 

Grigorovitch  has  written  a  truly  wonderful  story. 
Myself  and  Maikov  (who,  by-the-bye,  wants  to  write 
a  long  article  on  me)  have  arranged  for  it  to  appear 
in  the  0.  Z.  That  journal  is,  by  the  way,  in  very  low 
water;  they  haven't  a  single  story  in  reserve. 

Here  we  are  frightfully  dull.  And  so  work  goes 
badly.  I  lived  in  a  sort  of  paradise  with  you;  when 
things  do  go  well  with  me,  I  ruin  everything  by  my 
damnable  character.  . 


XIII 
To  his  Brother  Michael 

[Undated]  1846. 

DEAREST  BROTHER, 

I  mean  to  write  to  you  only  a  few  lines,  for  I 
have  a  terrible  crop  of  worries,  and  my  situation  is 
desperate.  The  truth  is  that  all  my  plans  have  come 
to  naught.  The  volume  of  stories  is  done  for,  be- 
cause not  a  single  one  of  the  tales  I  told  you  about 
lately  has  come  off.  Even  the  "  Whiskers  "  I  have 
abandoned.  I've  abandoned  the  whole  lot,  for  they 
are  nothing  but  a  repetition  of  old  stuff,  long  since 
given  forth  by  me.  I  have  heaps  of  original,  vital, 
and  lucid  thoughts  that  all  yearn  to  come  to  the 
birth.  When  I  had  written  the  conclusion  of  the 
"  Whiskers  "  I  saw  this  all  by  myself.  In  my  posi- 
tion, any  monotony  is  fatal. 

I  am  writing  a  new  story,  and  the  work,  as  with 
"  Poor  Folk,"  goes  easily  and  lightly.     I  had  intended 


38  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xiv 

this  tale  for  Krayevsky.  The  gentlemen  on  the 
Sovremennik  may  resent  this;  it  will  affect  me  but 
little.  If  I  have  this  story  ready  in  January,  I  shall 
print  nothing  till  the  following  year;  I  want  to  write 
a  novel,  and  shan't  rest  till  I  do. 

But  that  I  may  live  in  the  meantime,  I  intend 
to  bring  out  "  Poor  Folk  "  and  the  over-written 
"  Goliadkin  "  in  book-form. 


XIV 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

November  26,  1846. 

All  my  plans  about  publishing  have  fallen  through. 
The  whole  idea,  however,  was  doubtfully  profitable, 
needed  much  time,  and  was  possibly  premature. 
The  public  might  have  held  off.  I  mean  to  post- 
pone all  that  till  next  autumn.  I  shall  by  then  be 
better  known,  and  my  position  will  be  more  defined. 
Besides,  I  have  some  money  coming  in.  "  Goliadkin  " 
is  now  being  illustrated  by  an  artist  in  Moscow, 
and  two  artists  here  are  doing  pictures  for  "  Poor 
Folk."  Whichever  does  them  best,  gets  the  com- 
mission. Bernardsky1  tells  me  that  in  February  he 
wants  to  do  business  with  me,  and  will  pay  me  a 
certain  sum  for  the  right  to  publish  my  works  with 
his  illustrations.  Till  now  he  has  been  occupied  with 
the  illustrations  to  "  Dead  Souls."  In  a  word,  the 
publishing  plans  no  longer  interest  me.  Moreover, 
I  have  no  time.  I  have  a  lot  of  work  and  commis- 
sions. I  must  tell  you  that  I  have  broken  off  all 
relations  with  the  Sovremennik  as  far  as  Nekrassov 
represents  it.  He  was  vexed  because  I  wrote  also 

1  At  that  time  a  popular  engraver  and  book-illustrator. 


JET.  25]  BUSINESS  QUARRELS  39 

for  Krayevsky  (as  I  had  to  do,  so  as  to  work  off  his 
advances  of  money  to  me),  and  because  I  would  not 
make  the  public  declaration  which  he  desired,  saying 
that  I  no  longer  was  on  the  editorial  staff  of  the 
0.  Z.  When  he  saw  that  he  could  get  no  new  work 
from  me  in  the  immediate  future,  he  flung  various 
rudenesses  at  my  head,  and  was  foolish  enough  to 
demand  money  from  me.  I  took  him  at  his  word, 
and  drew  up  a  promissory  note  which  covered  the 
whole  amount,  payable  on  December  15.  I  mean  to 
see  them  coming  to  me  hat  in  hand.  As  soon  as  I 
roundly  abused  Nekrassov,  he  curtsied  and  whimpered 
like  a  Jew  that's  been  robbed.  In  short,  it's  a  shabby 
story.  Now  they  are  spreading  it  about  that  I'm  off 
my  head  with  conceit,  and  have  sold  myself  to 
Krayevsky,  because  Maikov  praises  me  in  his  paper. 
Nekrassov  henceforth  means  to  drag  me  down.  But 
as  to  Bielinsky,  he  is  so  pliable  that  even  about 
literary  matters  he  changes  his  views  five  times  a 
week.  With  him  alone  have  I  kept  up  my  former 
happy  relations.  He's  a  thoroughly  good  fellow. 
Krayevsky  was  so  delighted  by  this  whole  affair  that 
he  gave  me  money,  and  promised  besides  to  pay  all 
my  debts  up  to  December  15.  Therefore  I  must 
work  for  him  until  the  early  New  Year. 

Now  look,  brother — from  the  whole  business  I  have 
deduced  a  sage  rule.  First,  the  budding  author  of 
talent  injures  himself  by  having  friendly  relations 
with  the  publishers  and  proprietors  of  journals,  the 
consequence  of  which  is  that  those  gentry  take 
liberties  and  behave  shabbily.  Moreover,  the  artist 
must  be  independent;  and  finally,  he  must  conse- 
crate all  his  toil  to  the  holy  spirit  of  art — such  toil 
is  holy,  chaste,  and  demands  single-heartedness;  my 
own  heart  thrills  now  as  never  before  with  all  the 
new  imaginings  that  come  to  life  in  my  soul. 


40  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xiv 

Brother,  I  am  undergoing  not  only  a  moral,  but  a 
physical,  metamorphosis.  Never  before  was  there  in 
me  such  lucidity,  such  inward  wealth;  never  before 
was  my  nature  so  tranquil,  nor  my  health  so  satis- 
factory, as  now.  I  owe  this  in  great  measure  to  my 
good  friends:  Beketov,  Saliubezky,  and  the  others 
with  whom  I  live.  They  are  honest,  sensible  fellows, 
with  fine  instincts  and  affections,  and  noble,  steadfast 
characters.  Intercourse  with  them  has  healed  me. 
Finally,  I  suggested  that  "we  should  live  together. 
We  took  a  big  house  all  to  ourselves,  and  go  share 
and  share  alike  in  all  the  housekeeping  expenses, 
which  come,  at  the  most,  to  1,200  roubles  a  head 
annually.  So  great  are  the  blessings  of  the  com- 
munal system  !  I  have  a  room  to  myself,  and  work 
all  day  long. 

XV 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

1847. 
DEAR  BROTHER, 

I  must  once  more  beg  you  to  forgive  me  for 
not  having  kept  my  word,  and  written  by  the  next 
post.  But  through  all  the  meantime  I  have  been  so 
depressed  in  spirit  that  I  simply  could  not  write.  I 
have  thought  of  you  with  so  much  pain — your  fate 
is  truly  grievous,  dear  brother  !  With  your  feeble 
health,  your  turn  of  mind,  your  total  lack  of  com- 
panionship, living  in  one  perpetual  tedium  unvaried 
by  any  little  festive  occasions,  and  then  the  constant 
care  about  your  family — care  which  is  sweet  to  you, 
yet  nevertheless  weighs  you  down  like  a  heavy  yoke 
— why,  your  life  is  unbearable.  But  don't  lose 
courage,  brother.  Better  days  will  come.  And 
know  this,  the  richer  we  are  in  mind  and  spirit, 


MICHAEL    DOSTOEVSKY. 


JJT.  25]  PHARISEES  41 

the  fairer  will  our  life  appear.  It  is  indeed  true 
that  the  dissonance  and  lack  of  equilibrium  between 
ourselves  and  society  is  a  terrible  thing.  External 
and  internal  things  should  be  in  equilibrium.  For, 
lacking  external  experiences,  those  of  the  inward  life 
will  gain  the  upper  hand,  and  that  is  most  dangerous. 
The  nerves  and  the  fancy  then  take  up  too  much 
room,  as  it  were,  in  our  consciousness.  Every 
external  happening  seems  colossal,  and  frightens 
us.  We  begin  to  fear  life.  It  is  at  any  rate  a 
blessing  that  Nature  has  gifted  you  with  powers  of 
affection  and  strength  of  character.  You  have, 
besides,  a  vigorous,  healthy  mind,  sparkles  of  dia- 
mond-like wit,  and  a  happy  nature.  This  is  your 
salvation.  I  always  think  of  you  a  great  deal.  My 
God,  there  are  so  many  sour-faced,  small-souled, 
narrow-minded,  hoary-headed  philosophers,  professors 
of  the  art  of  existence,  Pharisees,  who  pride  them- 
selves on  their  "  experience  of  life  " — that  is  to  say, 
their  lack  of  individuality  (for  they  are  all  cut  on  the 
same  pattern) ;  and  who  are  good  for  nothing  at  all, 
with  their  everlasting  preachments  about  content- 
ment with  one's  destiny,  faith  in  something  or  other, 
modest  demands  from  life,  acceptance  of  the  station 
one  finds  one's-self  in,  and  so  on — never  once  thinking 
about  the  sense  of  any  of  those  words;  for  their  con- 
tentment is  that  of  cloistered  self -castration ;  they 
judge  with  unspeakably  paltry  animosity  the  vehe- 
ment, ardent  nature  of  him  who  refuses  to  accept 
their  insipid  "  daily-task  "  calendar  of  existence.  Oh, 
how  vulgar  are  all  these  preachers  of  the  falseness  of 
earthly  joys — how  vulgar,  every  one  !  Whenever  I 
fall  into  their  hands,  I  suffer  the  torments  of  hell.  .  .  . 

[Here  follows  the  description  of  a  visitor  who  had 
enraged  Dostoevsky  with  his  "  vulgarities."] 


42  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xv 

I  wish  so  much  to  see  you  again.  Sometimes  a 
nameless  grief  possesses  me.  I  can't  help  thinking 
perpetually  how  moody  and  "  edgey  "  I  was  when 
with  you  at  Reval.  I  was  ill  then.  I  remember  still 
how  you  once  said  to  me  that  my  behaviour  towards 
you  excluded  all  sense  of  equality  between  us.  My 
dear  brother,  that  was  unjust.  I  have  indeed,  it  is 
true,  an  evil,  repellent  character.  But  I  have  always 
ranked  you  above  myself.  I  could  give  my  life  for  you 
and  yours;  but  even  when  my  heart  is  warm  with 
love,  people  often  can't  get  so  much  as  one  friendly 
word  out  of  me.  At  such  times  I  have  lost  control  of 
my  nerves.  I  appear  ludicrous,  repellent,  and  have  to 
suffer  inexpressibly  from  the  misunderstanding  of  my 
fellow-creatures.  People  call  me  arid  and  heartless. 
How  often  have  I  been  rude  to  Emilie  Fyodorovna, 
your  wife,  who  is  a  thousand  times  my  superior !  I 
remember,  too,  that  frequently  I  was  cross  with  your 
son  Fedya  for  no  reason  at  all,  though  at  the  very  time 
I  loved  him  perhaps  even  more  than  I  loved  you.  I 
can  show  myself  to  be  a  man  of  feeling  and  humour 
only  when  external  circumstances  lift  me  high  above 
the  external  daily  round.  When  that  is  not  my 
state,  I  am  always  repellent.  I  account  for  these 
disparities  by  my  malady.  Have  you  read  "  Lucretia 
Floriani  "?  Take  a  look  at  the  "  King  "  too.  But 
soon  you'll  be  able  to  read  my  "  Netotschka  Nesva- 
nova."  That  story,  like  "  Goliadkin,"  will  be  a  self- 
confession,  though  different  in  tone.  About  "  Goliad- 
kin "  I  often  happen  to  hear  such  expressions  of 
opinion  that  I  get  quite  frightened.  Many  say  that 
it  is  a  veritable,  as  yet  uncomprehended,  marvel,  that 
it  will  have  enormous  significance  in  the  future,  and 
that  by  itself  alone  it  is  enough  to  make  me  famous; 
some  think  it  more  exciting  than  Dumas.  Now  I'm 
beginning  again  to  praise  myself.  But  it  is  so  delight- 


ST.  25]  DUBIOUS  FAME  43 

ful,  brother,  to  be  rightly  understood  !  For  what, 
actually,  do  you  love  me  so  much  ?  I'll  see  to  it  that 
somehow  we  meet  again  very  soon.  Won't  we  love 
one  another,  that's  all !  Wish  me  success.  I  am  now 
working  at  "  The  Mistress  of  the  Inn."  It  is  getting 
on  more  easily  than  "  Poor  Folk  "  did.  The  story  is  in 
the  same  manner.  A  flow  of  inspiration,  which  comes 
from  my  inmost  soul,  is  guiding  my  pen.  It  is  quite 
different  from  what  it  was  with  "  Prochartschin," 
from  which  I  suffered  the  whole  summer  through. 
How  I  wish  I  could  soon  help  you,  brother.  Depend, 
as  on  a  rock,  on  the  money  that  I  promised  you.  Kiss 
all  your  dear  ones  for  me.  In  the  meantime  I  am 

Thy 

DOSTOEVSKY. 

XVI 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

[Postscript  to  a  longer  business  letter,  early  in  the 
year  1847.] 

You  will  scarcely  believe  it.  Here  is  the  third  year 
of  my  literary  activity,  and  I  am  as  if  in  a  dream.  I 
don't  see  the  life  about  me  at  all,  I  have  no  time  to 
become  conscious  of  it ;  no  tune,  either,  to  learn  any- 
thing. I  want  to  attain  to  something  steadfast. 
People  have  created  a  dubious  fame  for  me,  and  I 
know  not  how  long  this  hell  of  poverty  and  constant 
hurried  work  will  last.  Oh,  if  I  could  but  once  have 
rest  ! 

XVII 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

[FROM  THE  FORTRESS], 
DEAR  BROTHER,  Wv  l8-  l849- 

I  was  inexpressibly  glad  of  your  letter,  which 
I  got  on  July  ii.    At  last  you  are  free,  and  I  can 


44  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xvn 

vividly  imagine  how  happy  you  were  when  you  saw 
your  family  again.  How  impatiently  they  must 
have  awaited  you !  I  seem  to  see  that  your  life  is 
beginning  to  shape  itself  differently.  With  what 
are  you  now  occupied,  and,  above  all,  what  are 
your  means  of  support  ?  Have  you  work,  and  of 
what  sort  ?  Summer  is  indeed  a  burden  in  the  town. 
You  tell  me  only  that  you  have  taken  a  new  house ; 
and  probably  it  is  much  smaller.  It  is  a  pity  you 
couldn't  spend  the  whole  summer  in  the  country.  I 
thank  you  for  the  things  you  sent ;  they  have  relieved 
and  diverted  me.  You  write,  my  dear  fellow,  that  I 
must  not  lose  heart.  Indeed,  I  am  not  losing  heart 
at  all;  to  be  sure,  life  here  is  very  monotonous  and 
dreary,  but  what  else  could  it  be  ?  And  after  all  it 
isn't  invariably  so  tedious.  The  time  goes  by  most 
irregularly,  so  to  speak — now  too  quickly,  now  too 
slowly.  Sometimes  I  have  the  feeling  that  I've 
grown  accustomed  to  this  sort  of  life,  and  that  nothing 
matters  very  much.  Of  course,  I  try  to  keep  all 
alluring  thoughts  out  of  my  head,  but  can't  always 
succeed;  my  early  days,  with  their  fresh  impressions, 
storm  in  on  my  soul,  and  I  live  all  the  past  over  again. 
That  is  in  the  natural  order  of  things.  The  days  are 
now  for  the  most  part  bright,  and  I  am  somewhat 
more  cheerful.  The  rainy  days,  though,  are  unbear- 
able, and  on  them  the  casemate  looks  terribly  grim. 
I  have  occupation,  however.  I  do  not  let  the  time  go 
by  for  naught ;  I  have  made  out  the  plots  of  three 
tales  and  two  novels  ;  and  am  writing  a  novel  now,  but 
avoid  over-working.  Such  labour,  when  I  do  it  with 
great  enjoyment  (I  have  never  worked  so  much 
con  amove  as  now),  has  always  agitated  me  and 
affected  my  nerves.  While  I  was  working  in  freedom 
I  was  always  obliged  to  diversify  my  labours  with 
amusements;  but  here  the  excitement  consequent  on 


JST.  27]  PRISON-LIFE  45 

work  has  to  evaporate  unaided.  My  health  is  good, 
except  for  the  haemorrhoids,  and  the  shattered  state 
of  my  nerves,  which  keeps  up  a  constant  crescendo. 
Now  and  then  I  get  attacks  of  breathlessness,  my 
appetite  is  as  unsatisfactory  as  ever,  I  sleep  badly,  and 
have  morbid  dreams.  I  sleep  about  five  hours  in  the 
daytime,  and  wake  four  times  at  least  every  night. 
This  is  the  only  thing  that  really  bothers  me.  The 
worst  of  all  are  the  twilight  hours.  By  nine  o'clock 
it  is  quite  dark  here.  I  often  cannot  get  to  sleep 
until  about  one  or  two  in  the  morning,  and  the  five 
hours  during  which  I  have  to  lie  in  darkness  are  hard 
to  bear.  They  are  injuring  my  health  more  than 
anything  else.  When  our  case  will  be  finished  I  can't 
say  at  all,  for  I  have  lost  all  sense  of  time,  and  merely 
use  a  calendar  upon  which  I  stroke  out,  quite  passively, 
each  day  as  it  passes:  "  That's  over  !"  I  haven't  read 
much  since  I've  been  here:  two  descriptions  of  travel 
in  the  Holy  Land,  and  the  works  of  Demetrius  von 
Rostov.  The  latter  interested  me  very  much ;  but  that 
kind  of  reading  is  only  a  drop  in  the  ocean ;  any  other 
sort  of  books  would,  I  imagine,  quite  extraordinarily 
delight  me,  and  they  might  be  very  useful,  for  thus  I 
could  diversify  my  own  thoughts  with  those  of  others, 
or  at  all  events  capture  a  different  mood. 

There  you  have  all  the  details  of  my  present  exist- 
ence— I  have  nothing  else  to  tell  you.  I  am  glad 
that  you  found  your  family  in  the  best  of  health. 
Have  you  yet  written  of  your  liberation  to  Moscow  ? 
It  is  a  pity  that  nothing  is  done  here.  How  I  should 
like  to  spend  at  least  one  day  with  you !  It  is  now 
three  months  since  we  came  to  this  fortress:  what 
may  not  still  be  in  store  for  us  !  Possibly  I  shall  not, 
the  whole  summer  through,  see  so  much  as  one  green 
leaf.  Do  you  remember  how  in  May  they  would 
take  us  to  walk  in  the  little  garden  ?  The  green  was 


46  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xvn 

just  beginning  then,  and  I  couldn't  help  thinking  of 
Reval,  where  I  was  with  you  at  about  that  season,  and 
of  the  garden  belonging  to  the  Engineering  College. 
I  imagined  that  you  must  be  making  the  same  com- 
parison, so  sad  was  I.  And  I  should  like  to  see  a  lot 
of  other  people  besides.  Whom  do  you  see  most  of 
now  ?  I  suppose  everybody's  in  the  country.  But 
our  brother  Andrey  must  surely  be  in  town  ?  Have 
you  seen  Nikolya  ?  Greet  them  all  from  me.  Kiss 
all  your  children  for  me.  Greet  your  wife,  and  tell 
her  that  I  am  greatly  touched  by  her  thinking  of  me. 
Don't  be  too  anxious  on  my  account.  I  have  but  one 
wish — to  be  in  good  health;  the  tedium  is  a  passing 
matter,  and  cheerfulness  depends  in  the  last  resort 
upon  myself.  Human  beings  have  an  incredible 
amount  of  endurance  and  will  to  live;  I  should  never 
have  expected  to  find  so  much  in  myself;  now  I  know 
it  from  experience.  Farewell !  I  hope  that  these 
few  lines  will  give  you  much  pleasure.  Greet  every 
one  you  see  whom  I  have  known — forget  no  one.  I 
have  not  forgotten  anybody.  What  can  the  children 
be  thinking  of  me,  and  how  do  they  explain  to  them- 
selves my  disappearance  ?  Farewell.  If  you  can  at 
all  manage  it,  send  me  the  0.  Z.  Then  I  should  at 
any  rate  have  something  to  read.  Write  me  a  few 
lines — it  would  extraordinarily  cheer  me. 
Till  next  time  ! 

XVIII 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

[FROM  THE  FORTRESS], 

August  27,  1849. 

I  rejoice  that  I  may  answer  you,  dear  brother,  and 
thank  you  for  sending  the  books.  I  rejoice  also  that 
you  are  well,  and  that  the  imprisonment  had  no  evil 


JET:.  27]  ENDURANCE  47 

effects  upon  your  constitution.  I  am  most  particularly 
grateful  to  you  for  the  0.  Z.  But  you  write  far  too 
little,  and  my  letters  are  much  more  comprehensive 
than  yours.  This  only  by  the  way — you'll  do  better 
next  time. 

I  have  nothing  definite  to  tell  you  about  myself. 
As  yet  I  know  nothing  whatever  about  our  case. 
My  personal  life  is  as  monotonous  as  ever ;  but  they 
have  given  me  permission  to  walk  in  the  garden,  where 
there  are  almost  seventeen  trees  !  This  is  a  great 
happiness  for  me.  Moreover,  I  am  given  a  candle  in 
the  evenings — that's  my  second  piece  of  luck.  The 
third  will  be  mine  if  you  answer  as  soon  as  possible, 
and  send  me  the  next  number  of  the  0.  Z.  I  am  in 
the  same  position  as  a  country  subscriber,  and  await 
each  number  as  a  great  event,  like  some  landed 
proprietor  dying  of  boredom  in  the  provinces.  Will 
you  send  me  some  historical  works  ?  That  would  be 
splendid.  But  best  of  all  would  be  the  Bible  (both 
Testaments).  I  need  one.  Should  it  prove  possible, 
send  it  in  a  French  translation.  But  if  you  could 
add  as  well  a  Slav  edition,  it  would  be  the  height  of 
bliss. 

Of  my  health  I  can  tell  you  nothing  good.  For  a 
month  I  have  been  living  almost  exclusively  on  castor 
oil.  My  haemorrhoids  have  been  unusually  torment- 
ing ;  moreover  I  detect  a  pain  in  the  breast  that  I  have 
never  had  before.  My  nervous  irritability  has  notably 
increased,  especially  in  the  evening  hours;  at  night  I 
have  long,  hideous  dreams,  and  latterly  I  have  often 
felt  as  if  the  ground  were  rocking  under  me  so,  that 
my  room  seems  like  the  cabin  of  a  steamer.  From 
all  this  I  conclude  that  my  nerves  are  increasingly 
shattered.  Whenever  formerly  I  had  such  nervous 
disturbances,  I  made  use  of  them  for  writing;  in  such 
a  state  I  could  write  much  more  and  much  better  than 


48  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xvm 

usual;  but  now  I  refrain  from  work  that  I  may  not 
utterly  destroy  myself.  I  took  a  rest  of  three  weeks, 
during  which  time  I  wrote  not  at  all;  now  I  have 
begun  again.  But  anyhow,  all  this  is  nothing:  I 
can  stick  it  out  to  the  end.  Perhaps  I  shall  get  quite 
right  again. 

You  most  tremendously  astonish  me  when  you 
write  that  you  believe  they  know  nothing  of  our 
adventure  in  Moscow.  I  have  thought  it  over,  and 
come  to  the  conclusion  that  that's  quite  impossible. 
They  simply  must  know,  and  I  attribute  their  silence 
to  another  reason.  And  that  was,  after  all,  to  be 
expected.  Oh,  it's  quite  clear.  .  .  . 

[The  letter  goes  on  to  speak  of  his  brother's  family. 
Dostoevsky  also  makes  some  unimportant  remarks  on 
the  articles  in  the  0.  Z.] 

XIX 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

[FROM  THE  FORTRESS], 

September  14,  1849. 

I  have  received,  dear  brother,  your  letter,  the 
books  (Shakespeare,  the  Bible,  and  the  0.  Z.}  and 
the  money  (ten  roubles) :  thank  you  for  all.  I  am  glad 
that  you  are  well.  I  go  on  as  before.  Always  the 
same  digestive  troubles  and  the  haemorrhoids.  I 
don't  know  if  all  this  will  ever  leave  me.  The 
autumn  months,  which  I  find  so  trying,  are  drawing 
near,  and  with  them  returns  my  hypochondria.  The 
sky  is  already  grey;  my  health  and  good  heart  are 
dependent  on  those  little  tatters  of  blue  that  I  can 
see  from  my  casemate.  But  at  any  rate  I'm  alive, 
and  comparatively  well.  This  fact  I  maintain; 
therefore  I  beg  you  not  to  think  of  my  state  as 


JET.  27]          TURGENEV'S  COMEDY  49 

wholly  grievous.  My  health  is  at  present  good.  I 
had  expected  worse,  and  now  I  see  that  I  have  so 
much  vitality  in  me  that  it  simply  won't  allow  itself 
to  be  exhausted. 

Thank  you  again  for  the  books.  They  divert  me, 
at  all  events.  For  almost  five  months  I  have  been 
living  exclusively  on  my  own  provisions — that  is  to 
say,  on  my  own  head  alone  and  solely.  That  machine 
is  still  in  working  order.  But  it  is  unspeakably  hard 
to  think  only,  everlastingly  to  think,  without  any  of 
those  external  impressions  which  renew  and  nourish 
the  soul.  I  live  as  though  under  the  bell  of  an  air- 
pump,  from  which  the  air  is  being  drawn.  My  whole 
existence  has  concentrated  itself  in  my  head,  and 
from  my  head  has  drifted  into  my  thoughts,  and 
the  labour  of  those  thoughts  grows  more  arduous 
every  day.  Books  are  certainly  a  mere  drop  in  the 
ocean,  still  they  do  always  help  me;  while  my  own 
work,  I  think,  consumes  my  remains  of  strength. 
Nevertheless  it  gives  me  much  happiness. 

I  have  read  the  books  you  sent.  I  am  particularly 
thankful  for  the  Shakespeare.  That  was  a  good  idea 
of  yours.  The  English  novel  in  the  0.  Z.  is  very 
good.  On  the  other  hand,  Turgenev's  comedy  is  un- 
pardonably  bad.  Why  has  he  always  such  ill-luck  ? 
Is  he  fated  to  ruin  every  work  of  his  which  runs  to 
more  than  one  printed  sheet  ?  I  simply  could  not 
recognize  him  in  this  comedy.  Not  a  trace  of 
originality;  everything  in  the  old,  worn-out  groove. 
He  has  said  it  all  before,  and  much  better.  The  last 
scene  is  puerile  in  its  feebleness.  Here  and  there 
one  thinks  to  see  signs  of  talent,  but  only  for  want 
of  something  better.  How  splendid  is  the  article  on 
the  Banks — and  how  universally  true  !  I  thank  all 
who  remember  me;  greet  your  Emilie  Fyodorovna 
from  me,  our  brother  Andrey  too,  and  kiss  the  chil- 

4 


50  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xx 

dren,  who,  I  greatly  hope,  are  better.  Truly  I  don't 
know,  brother,  when  and  how  we  shall  meet  again  ! 
Farewell,  and  please  don't  forget  me.  Write  to  me, 
even  if  it  can't  be  for  a  fortnight.  Till  next  time  ! 

Thy 

F.    DOSTOEVSKY. 

Pray  do  not  be  anxious  about  me.     If  you  can  get 
hold  of  any  books,  send  them. 

XX 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

[FROM  THE  FORTRESS], 

December  22,  1849. 

To-day,  the  22nd  of  December,  we  were  all  taken 
to  Semionovsky  Square.  There  the  death-sentence 
was  read  to  us,  we  were  given  the  Cross  to  kiss,  the 
dagger  was  broken  over  our  heads,  and  our  funeral 
toilet  (white  shirts)  was  made.  Then  three  of  us 
were  put  standing  before  the  palisades  for  the  execu- 
tion of  the  death-sentence.  I  was  sixth  in  the  row; 
we  were  called  up  by  groups  of  three,  and  so  I 
was  in  the  second  group,  and  had  not  more  than  a 
minute  to  live.  I  thought  of  you,  my  brother,  and 
of  yours;  in  that  last  moment  you  alone  were  in  my 
mind;  then  first  I  learnt  how  very  much  I  love 
you,  my  beloved  brother  !  I  had  time  to  embrace 
Plechtcheyev  and  Dourov,  who  stood  near  me,  and 
to  take  my  leave  of  them.  Finally,  retreat  was 
sounded,  those  who  were  bound  to  the  palisades 
were  brought  back,  and  it  was  read  to  us  that  His 
Imperial  Majesty  granted  us  our  lives.  Then  the 
final  sentences  were  recited.  Palm  alone  is  fully 
pardoned.  He  has  been  transferred  to  the  line  with 
the  :ame  rank. 

F.  DOSTOEVSKY. 


«T.  32]  AFTER  FOUR  YEARS  51 

XXI 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

[FROM  OMSK], 

February  22,  1854. 

At  last  I  can  talk  with  you  somewhat  more  ex- 
plicitly, and,  I  believe,  in  a  more  reasonable  manner. 
But  before  I  write  another  line  I  must  ask  you: 
Tell  me,  for  God's  sake,  why  you  have  never  written 
me  a  single  syllable  till  now  ?  Could  I  have  expected 
this  from  you  ?  Believe  me,  in  my  lonely  and  isolated 
state,  I  sometimes  fell  into  utter  despair,  for  I 
believed  that  you  were  no  longer  alive;  through 
whole  nights  I  would  brood  upon  what  was  to  become 
of  your  children,  and  I  cursed  my  fate  because  I 
could  not  help  them.  But  whenever  I  heard  for 
certain  that  you  were  still  alive,  I  would  get  furious 
(this  happened,  however,  only  in  times  of  illness, 
from  which  I  have  suffered  a  very  great  deal),  and 
begin  to  reproach  you  bitterly.  Then  those  states  of 
mind  would  pass,  and  I  would  excuse  you,  I  would 
exert  myself  to  find  a  justification  for  you,  and  grow 
tranquil  as  soon  as  I  discovered  any — nor  did  I  ever 
for  a  moment  utterly  lose  faith  in  you:  I  know  that 
you  love  me,  and  keep  me  in  kindly  remembrance. 
I  wrote  you  a  letter  through  our  official  staff;  you 
simply  must  have  got  it ;  I  expected  an  answer  from 
you,  and  received  none.  Were  you  then  forbidden 
to  write  to  me  ?  But  I  know  that  letters  are  allowed, 
for  every  one  of  the  political  prisoners  here  gets 
several  in  the  year.  Even  Dourov  had  some ;  and  we 
often  asked  the  officials  how  it  stood  about  corre- 
spondence, and  they  declared  that  people  had  the 
right  to  send  us  letters.  I  think  I  have  guessed  the 
real  reason  for  your  silence.  You  were  too  lazy  to 


52  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxi 

go  to  the  police-office,  or  if  you  did  go  once,  you 
took  the  first  "  No  "  for  an  answer — given  you,  prob- 
ably, by  some  functionary  or  other  who  knew  nothing 
rightly  about  the  -matter.  Well,  you  have  caused 
me  a  great  deal  of  selfish  anxiety,  for  I  thought :  If 
he  won't  take  any  trouble  about  a  letter,  he  certainly 
won't  either  about  more  important  things  !  Write 
and  answer  me  as  quickly  as  possible;  write,  without 
awaiting  an  opportunity,  officially,  and  be  as  explicit 
and  detailed  as  you  possibly  can.  I  am  like  a  slice 
cut  from  a  loaf  nowadays ;  I  long  to  grow  back  again, 
but  can't.  Les  absents  ont  toujours  tort.  Is  that  say- 
ing to  come  true  of  us  two  ?  But  be  easy  in  your 
mind:  I  trust  you. 

It  is  a  week  now  since  I  left  the  prison.  I  am 
sending  this  letter  in  the  strictest  secrecy;  say  not  a 
syllable  about  it  to  anyone.  I  shall  send  you  an 
official  one  too,  through  the  staff  of  the  Siberian 
Army  Corps.  Answer  the  official  one  instantly,  but 
this — on  the  first  suitable  occasion.  You  must,  though, 
write  very  circumstantially  in  the  official  letter  of 
what  you  have  been  doing  during  these  four  years. 
For  my  part  I  should  like  to  be  sending  you  volumes. 
But  as  my  time  scarcely  suffices  for  even  this  sheet, 
I  shall  tell  you  only  the  most  important  thing. 

What  is  the  most  important  ?  What  was  the  most 
important  to  me  in  the  recent  past  ?  When  I  reflect, 
I  see  that  even  to  tell  that,  this  sheet  is  far  too  small. 
How  can  I  impart  to  you  what  is  now  in  my  mind — 
the  things  I  thought,  the  things  I  did,  the  convictions 
I  acquired,  the  conclusions  I  came  to  ?  I  cannot 
even  attempt  the  task.  It  is  absolutely  impracticable. 
I  don't  like  to  leave  a  piece  of  work  half  done ;  to  say 
only  a  part  is  to  say  nothing.  At  any  rate,  you  now 
have  my  detailed  report  in  your  hands:  read  it,  and 
get  from  it  what  you  will.  It  is  my  duty  to  tell  you 


JET.  32]  TO  SIBERIA !  53 

all,  and  so  I  will  begin  with  my  recollections.  Do 
you  remember  how  we  parted  from  one  another,  my 
dear  beloved  fellow  ?  You  had  scarcely  left  me  when 
we  three,  Dourov,  Yastrchembsky,  and  I,  were  led 
out  to  have  the  irons  put  on.  Precisely  at  midnight 
on  that  Christmas  Eve  (1849),  did  chains  touch  me 
for  the  first  time.  They  weigh  about  ten  pounds, 
and  make  walking  extraordinarily  difficult.  Then 
we  were  put  into  open  sledges,  each  alone  with  a 
gendarme,  and  so,  in  four  sledges — the  orderly  open- 
ing the  procession — we  left  Petersburg.  I  was 
heavy-hearted,  and  the  many  different  impressions 
filled  me  with  confused  and  uncertain  sensations. 
My  heart  beat  with  a  peculiar  flutter,  and  that 
numbed  its  pain.  Still,  the  fresh  air  was  reviving 
in  its  effect,  and,  since  it  is  usual  before  all  new 
experiences  to  be  aware  of  a  curious  vivacity  and 
eagerness,  so  /  was  at  the  bottom  quite  tranquil.  I 
looked  attentively  at  all  the  festively-lit  houses  of 
Petersburg,  and  said  good-bye  to  each.  They  drove 
us  past  your  abode,  and  at  Krayevsky's  the  windows 
were  brilliantly  lit.  You  had  told  me  that  he  was 
giving  a  Christmas  party  and  tree,  and  that  your 
children  were  going  to  it,  with  Emilie  Fyodorovna; 
I  did  feel  dreadfully  sad  as  we  passed  that  house.  I 
took  leave,  as  it  were,  of  the  little  ones.  I  felt  so 
lonely  for  them,  and  even  years  afterwards  I  often 
thought  of  them  with  tears  in  my  eyes.  We  were 
driven  beyond  Yaroslavl;  after  three  or  four  stations 
we  stopped,  in  the  first  grey  of  morning,  at  Schliissel- 
burg,  and  went  into  an  inn.  There  we  drank  tea 
with  as  much  avidity  as  if  we  had  not  touched  any- 
thing for  a  week.  After  the  eight  months'  captivity, 
sixty  versts  in  a  sledge  gave  us  appetites  of  which, 
even  to-day,  I  think  with  pleasure. 
I  was  in  a  good  temper,  Dourov  chattered  inces- 


54  DOST  OEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xx 

santly,  and  Yastrchembsky  expressed  unwonted 
apprehensions  for  the  future.  We  all  laid  ourselves 
out  to  become  better  acquainted  with  our  orderly. 
He  was  a  good  old  man,  very  friendly  inclined 
towards  us;  a  man  who  has  seen  a  lot  of  life;  he 
had  travelled  all  over  Europe  with  despatches.  On 
the  way  he  showed  us  many  kindnesses.  His  name 
was  Kusma  Prokofyevitch  Prokofyev.  Among 
other  things  he  let  us  have  a  covered  sledge,  which 
was  very  welcome,  for  the  frost  was  fearful. 

The  second  day  was  a  holiday;  the  drivers,  who 
were  changed  at  the  various  stations,  wore  cloaks 
of  grey  German  cloth  with  bright  red  belts:  in  the 
village-streets  there  was  not  a  soul  to  be  seen.  It 
was  a  splendid  winter-day.  They  drove  us  through 
the  remote  parts  of  the  Petersburg,  Novgorod,  and 
Yaroslavl  Governments.  There  were  quite  insignifi- 
cant little  towns,  at  great  distances  from  one  another. 
But  as  we  were  passing  through  on  a  holiday,  there 
was  always  plenty  to  eat  and  drink.  We  drove — 
drove  terribly.  We  were  warmly  dressed,  it  is  true, 
but  we  had  to  sit  for  ten  hours  at  a  time  in  the 
sledges,  halting  at  only  five  or  six  stations:  it  was 
almost  unendurable.  I  froze  to  the  marrow,  and 
could  scarcely  thaw  myself  in  the  warm  rooms  at  the 
stations.  Strange  to  say,  the  journey  completely 
restored  me  to  health.  Near  Perm,  we  had  a  frost 
of  forty  degrees  during  some  of  the  nights.  I  don't 
recommend  that  to  you.  It  was  highly  disagreeable. 
Mournful  was  the  moment  when  we  crossed  the 
Ural.  The  horses  and  sledges  sank  deep  in  the 
snow.  A  snow-storm  was  raging.  We  got  out  of 
the  sledges — it  was  night — and  waited,  standing,  till 
they  were  extricated.  All  about  us  whirled  the 
snow-storm.  We  were  standing  on  the  confines  of 
Europe  and  Asia;  before  us  lay  Siberia  and  the 


T.  32]  TOBOLSK  55 

mysterious  future — behind  us,  our  whole  past;  it 
was  very  melancholy.  Tears  came  to  my  eyes.  On 
the  way,  the  peasants  would  stream  out  of  all  the 
villages  to  see  us;  and  although  we  were  fettered, 
prices  were  tripled  to  us  at  all  the  stations.  Kusma 
Prokofyevitch  took  half  our  expenses  on  himself, 
though  we  tried  hard  to  prevent  him;  in  this  way 
each  of  us,  during  the  whole  journey,  spent  only 
fifteen  roubles. 

On  January  12  (1850)  we  came  to  Tobolsk.  After 
we  had  been  paraded  before  the  authorities,  and 
searched,  in  which  proceeding  all  our  money  was 
taken  from  us,  myself,  Dourov,  and  Yastrchembsky 
were  taken  into  one  cell;  the  others,  Spyechnyov, 
etc.,  who  had  arrived  before  us,  were  in  another 
section,  and  during  the  whole  time  we  hardly  once 
saw  each  other.  I  should  like  to  tell  you  more  of 
our  six  days'  stay  in  Tobolsk,  and  of  the  impressions 
it  made  upon  me.  But  I  haven't  room  here.  I  will 
only  tell  you  that  the  great  compassion  and  sympathy 
which  was  shown  us  there,  made  up  to  us,  like  a  big 
piece  of  happiness,  for  all  that  had  gone  before.  The 
prisoners  of  former  days1  (and  still  more  their  wives) 
cared  for  us  as  if  they  had  been  our  kith  and  kin. 
Those  noble  souls,  tested  by  five-and- twenty  years 
of  suffering  and  self-sacrifice  !  We  saw  them  but 
seldom,  for  we  were  very  strictly  guarded;  still, 
they  sent  us  clothes  and  provisions,  they  comforted 
and  encouraged  us.  I  had  brought  far  too  few 
clothes,  and  had  bitterly  repented  it,  but  they  sent  me 
clothes.  Finally  we  left  Tobolsk,  and  reached  Omsk 
in  three  days. 

While  I  was  in  Tobolsk,  I  gathered  information 

1  These  were  the  participators  in  the  coup  d'etat  of  Decem- 
ber 14,  1825  ("  Decembrists  "),  who  had  been  banished  to 
Siberia. 


56  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxi 

about  my  future  superiors.  They  told  me  that  the 
Commandant  was  a  very  decent  fellow,  but  that 
the  Major,  Krivzov,  was  an  uncommon  brute,  a 
petty  tyrant,  a  drunkard,  a  trickster — in  short, 
the  greatest  horror  that  can  be  imagined.  From 
the  very  beginning,  he  called  both  Dourov  and  me 
blockheads,  and  vowed  to  chastise  us  bodily  at  the 
first  transgression.  He  had  already  held  his  position 
for  two  years,  and  done  the  most  hideous  and  unsanc- 
tioned  things ;  two  years  later,  he  was  court-martialled 
for  them.  So  God  protected  me  from  him.  He 
used  to  come  to  us  mad  drunk  (I  never  once  saw 
him  sober),  and  would  seek  out  some  inoffensive 
prisoner  and  flog  him  on  the  pretext  that  he— the 
prisoner — was  drunk.  Often  he  came  at  night  and 
punished  at  random — say,  because  such  and  such  an 
one  was  sleeping  on  his  left  side  instead  of  his  right, 
or  because  he  talked  or  moaned  in  his  sleep — in  fact, 
anything  that  occurred  to  his  drunken  mind.  I 
should  have  had  to  break  out  in  the  long  run  against 
such  a  man  as  that,  and  it  was  he  who  wrote  the 
monthly  reports  of  us  to  Petersburg. 

I  had  made  acquaintance  with  convicts  in  Tobolsk ; 
at  Omsk  I  settled  myself  down  to  live  four  years 
in  common  with  them.  They  are  rough,  angry, 
embittered  men.  Their  hatred  for  the  nobility  is 
boundless;  they  regard  all  of  us  who  belong  to  it 
with  hostility  and  enmity.  They  would  have 
devoured  us  if  they  only  could.  Judge  then  for 
yourself  in  '-hat  danger  we  stood,  having  to  cohabit 
with  these  people  for  some  years,  eat  with  them, 
sleep  by  them,  and  with  no  possibility  of  com- 
plaining of  the  affronts  which  were  constantly  put 
upon  us. 

"  You  nobles  have  iron  beaks,  you  have  torn  us 
to  pieces.  When  you  were  masters,  you  injured  the 


s,i.  32]  PRISON  LIFE  INDOORS  57 

people,  and  now,  when  it's  evil  days  with  you,  you 
want  to  be  our  brothers." 

This  theme  was  developed  during  four  years.  A 
hundred  and  fifty  foes  never  wearied  of  persecuting 
us — it  was  their  joy,  their  diversion,  their  pastime; 
our  sole  shield  was  our  indifference  and  our  moral 
superiority,  which  they  were  forced  to  recognize  and 
respect ;  they  were  also  impressed  by  our  never  yield- 
ing to  their  will.  They  were  for  ever  conscious  that 
we  stood  above  them.  They  had  not  the  least  idea 
of  what  our  offence  had  been.  We  kept  our  own 
counsel  about  that,  and  so  we  could  never  come  to 
understand  one  another;  we  had  to  let  the  whole 
of  the  vindictiveness,  the  whole  of  the  hatred,  that 
they  cherish  against  the  nobility,  flow  over  us.  We 
had  a  very  bad  time  there.  A  military  prison  is 
much  worse  than  the  ordinary  ones.  I  spent  the 
whole  four  years  behind  dungeon  walls,  and  only 
left  the  prison  when  I  was  taken  on  "  hard  labour." 
The  labour  was  hard,  though  not  always;  sometimes 
in  bad  weather,  in  rain,  or  in  winter  during  the 
unendurable  frosts,  my  strength  would  forsake  me. 
Once  I  had  to  spend  four  hours  at  a  piece  of  extra 
work,  and  in  such  frost  that  the  quicksilver  froze; 
it  was  perhaps  forty  degrees  below  zero.  One  of 
my  feet  was  frost-bitten.  We  all  lived  together  in 
one  barrack-room.  Imagine  an  old,  crazy  wooden 
building,  that  should  long  ago  have  been  broken 
up  as  useless.  In  the  summer  it  is  unbearably 
hot,  in  the  winter  unbearably  cold.  All  the  boards 
are  rotten.  On  the  ground  filth  lies  an  inch  thick; 
every  instant  one  is  in  danger  of  slipping  and 
coming  down.  The  small  windows  are  so  frozen 
over  that  even  by  day  one  can  hardly  read.  The  ice 
on  the  panes  is  three  inches  thick.  The  ceilings  drip, 
there  are  draughts  everywhere.  We  are  packed  like 


58  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxi 

herrings  in  a  barrel.  The  stove  is  heated  with  six 
logs  of  wood,  but  the  room  is  so  cold  that  the  ice 
never  once  thaws;  the  atmosphere  is  unbearable — 
and  so  through  all  the  winter  long.  In  the  same 
room,  the  prisoners  wash  their  linen,  and  thus  make 
the  place  so  wet  that  one  scarcely  dares  to  move. 
From  twilight  till  morning  we  are  forbidden  to  leave 
the  barrack-room;  the  doors  are  barricaded;  in  the 
ante-room  a  great  wooden  trough  for  the  calls  of 
nature  is  placed;  this  makes  one  almost  unable  to 
breathe.  All  the  prisoners  stink  like  pigs;  they  say 
that  they  can't  help  it,  for  they  must  live,  and  are 
but  men.  We  slept  upon  bare  boards ;  each  man  was 
allowed  one  pillow  only.  We  covered  ourselves  with 
short  sheepskins,  and  our  feet  were  outside  the  cover- 
ing all  the  time.  It  was  thus  that  we  froze  night 
after  night.  Fleas,  lice,  and  other  vermin  by  the 
bushel.  In  the  winter  we  got  thin  sheepskins  to  wear, 
which  didn't  keep  us  warm  at  all,  and  boots  with 
short  legs;  thus  equipped,  we  had  to  go  out  in  the  frost. 

To  eat  we  got  bread  and  cabbage-soup:  the  soup 
should,  by  the  regulations,  have  contained  a  quarter- 
pound  of  meat  per  head;  but  they  put  in  sausage- 
meat,  and  so  I  never  came  across  a  piece  of  genuine 
flesh.  On  feast-days  we  got  porridge,  but  with 
scarcely  any  butter.  On  fast-days — cabbage  and 
nothing  else.  My  stomach  went  utterly  to  pieces, 
and  I  suffered  tortures  from  indigestion. 

From  all  this  you  can  see  for  yourself  that  one 
couldn't  live  there  at  all  without  money;  if  I  had 
had  none,  I  should  most  assuredly  have  perished;  no 
one  could  endure  such  a  life.  But  every  convict 
does  some  sort  of  work  and  sells  it,  thus  earning, 
every  single  one  of  them,  a  few  pence.  I  often  drank 
tea  and  bought  myself  a  piece  of  meat ;  it  was  my 
salvation.  It  was  quite  impossible  to  do  without 


^T.  32]  OMSK  59 

smoking,  for  otherwise  the  stench  would  have  choked 
one.  All  these  things  were  done  behind  the  backs  of 
the  officials. 

I  was  often  in  hospital.  My  nerves  were  so 
shattered  that  I  had  some  epileptic  fits — however, 
that  was  not  very  often.  I  have  rheumatism  in  my 
legs  now,  too.  But  except  for  that,  I  feel  right  well. 
Add  to  all  these  discomforts,  the  fact  that  it  was 
almost  impossible  to  get  one's  self  a  book,  and  that 
when  I  did  get  one,  I  had  to  read  it  on  the  sly;  that 
all  around  me  was  incessant  malignity,  turbulence, 
and  quarrelling;  then  perpetual  espionage,  and  the 
impossibility  of  ever  being  alone  for  even  an  instant — 
and  so  without  variation  for  four  long  years:  you'll 
believe  me  when  I  tell  you  that  I  was  not  happy. 
And  imagine,  in  addition,  the  ever-present  dread  of 
drawing  down  some  punishment  on  myself,  the  irons, 
and  the  utter  oppression  of  spirits — and  you  have  the 
picture  of  my  life. 

I  won't  even  try  to  tell  you  what  transformations 
were  undergone  by  my  soul,  my  faith,  my  mind,  and 
my  heart  in  those  four  years.  It  would  be  a  long 
story.  Still,  the  eternal  concentration,  the  escape 
into  myself  from  bitter  reality,  did  bear  its  fruit. 
I  now  have  many  new  needs  and  hopes  of  which  I 
never  thought  in  other  days.  But  all  this  will  be 
pure  enigma  for  you,  and  so  I'll  pass  to  other  things. 
I  will  say  only  one  word:  Do  not  forget  me,  and  do 
help  me.  I  need  books  and  money.  Send  them  me, 
for  Christ's  sake. 

Omsk  is  a  hateful  hole.  There  is  hardly  a  tree 
here.  In  summer — heat  and  winds  that  bring  sand- 
storms; in  winter — snow-storms.  I  have  scarcely 
seen  anything  of  the  country  round.  The  place  is 
dirty,  almost  exclusively  inhabited  by  military,  and 
dissolute  to  the  last  degree.  I  mean  the  common 


6o  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxi 

people.  If  I  hadn't  discovered  some  human  beings 
here,  I  should  have  gone  utterly  to  the  dogs.  Con- 
stantine  Ivanovitch  Ivanov  is  like  a  brother  to  me. 
He  has  done  everything  that  he  in  any  way  could  for 
me.  I  owe  him  money.  If  he  ever  goes  to  Peters- 
burg, show  him  some  recognition.  I  owe  him  twenty- 
five  roubles.  But  how  can  I  repay  his  kindness,  his 
constant  willingness  to  carry  out  all  my  requests,  his 
attention  and  care  for  me,  just  like  a  brother's  ?  And 
he  is  not  the  only  one  whom  I  have  to  thank  in  that 
way.  Brother,  there  are  very  many  noble  natures  in 
the  world. 

I  have  already  said  that  your  silence  often  tortured 
me.  I  thank  you  for  the  money  you  sent.  In  your 
next  letter  (even  if  it's  "  official,"  for  I  don't  know 
yet  whether  it  is  possible  for  me  to  correspond  with 
you) — in  your  next,  write  as  fully  as  you  can  of  all 
your  affairs,  of  Emilie  Fyodorovna,  the  children,  all 
relations  and  acquaintances;  also  of  those  in  Moscow 
— who  is  alive  and  who  is  dead ;  and  of  your  business : 
tell  me  with  what  capital  you  started  it,1  whether  it 
is  lucrative,  whether  you  are  in  funds,  and  finally, 
whether  you  will  help  me  financially,  and  how  much 
you  will  send  me  a  year.  But  send  no  money  with 
the  official  letter — particularly  if  I  don't  find  a  cover- 
ing address.  For  the  present,  give  Michael  Petro- 
vitch  as  the  consignor  of  all  packets  (you  understand, 
don't  you  ?).  For  the  time  I  have  some  money,  but 
I  have  no  books.  If  you  can,  send  me  the  magazines 
for  this  year,  or  at  any  rate  the  0.  Z.  But  what 
I  urgently  need  are  the  following;  I  need  (very 
necessary)  ancient  historians  (in  French  translations) ; 
modern  historians:  Guizot,  Thierry,  Thiers,  Ranke, 
and  so  forth;  national  studies,  and  the  Fathers  of  the 

1  Michael  Dostoevsky  had  at  this  time  a  tobacco  and 
cigarette  factory. 


JET.  32]  SEMIPALATINSK  61 

Church.  Choose  the  cheapest  and  most  compact 
editions.  Send  them  by  return.  They  have  ordered 
me  to  Semipalatinsk,  which  lies  on  the  edge  of  the 
Kirghiz  steppes;  I'll  let  you  have  the  address.  Here 
is  one  for  the  present,  anyhow;  "Semipalatinsk, 
Siberian  Regiment  of  the  Line,  Seventh  Battalion, 
Private  F.  Dostoevsky."  That's  the  official  style. 
To  this  one  send  your  letters.  But  I'll  give  you 
another  for  the  books.  For  the  present,  write  as 
Michael  Petrovitch.  Remember,  above  all  things,  I 
need  a  German  dictionary. 

I  don't  know  what  awaits  me  at  Semipalatinsk.  I 
don't  mind  the  service  much.  But  what  I  do  care 
about  is — exert  yourself  for  me,  spend  yourself  for 
me  with  somebody  or  other.  Could  they  not  transfer 
me  in  a  year  or  two  to  the  Caucasus  ?  Then  I  should 
at  least  be  in  European  Russia  !  This  is  my  dearest 
desire,  grant  it  me,  for  Christ's  sake  !  Brother,  do 
not  forget  me  !  I  write  and  scold  you  and  dispose  of 
your  very  property  !  But  my  faith  in  you  is  not  yet 
extinguished.  You  are  my  brother,  and  you  used  to 
love  me.  I  need  money.  I  must  have  something  to 
live  on,  brother.  These  years  shall  not  have  been  in 
vain.  I  want  money  and  books.  What  you  spend 
on  me  will  not  be  lost.  If  you  give  me  help,  you 
won't  be  robbing  your  children.  If  I  live,  I'll  repay 
you  with  interest — oh,  a  thousandfold.  In  six  years, 
perhaps  even  sooner,  I  shall  surely  get  permission  to 
print  my  books.  It  may  indeed  be  quite  otherwise, 
but  I  don't  write  recklessly  now.  You  shall  hear  of 
me  again. 

We  shall  see  one  another  some  day,  brother.  I 
believe  in  that  as  in  the  multiplication-table.  To  my 
soul,  all  is  clear.  I  see  my  whole  future,  and  all  that 
I  shall  accomplish,  plainly  before  me.  I  am  content 
with  my  life.  I  fear  only  men  and  tyranny.  How 


62  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxi 

easily  might  I  come  across  a  superior  officer  who  did 
not  like  me  (there  are  such  folk  !),  who  would  torment 
me  incessantly  and  destroy  me  with  the  rigours  of 
service — for  I  am  very  frail  and  of  course  in  no  state 
to  bear  the  full  burden  of  a  soldier's  life.  People  try 
to  console  me:  "  They're  quite  simple  sort  of  fellows 
there."  But  I  dread  simple  men  more  than  complex 
ones.  For  that  matter,  men  everywhere  are  just — 
men.  Even  among  the  robber-murderers  in  the 
prison,  I  came  to  know  some  men  in  those  four 
years.  Believe  me,  there  were  among  them  deep, 
strong,  beautiful  natures,  and  it  often  gave  me 
great  joy  to  find  gold  under  a  rough  exterior.  And 
not  in  a  single  case,  or  even  two,  but  in  several  cases. 
Some  inspired  respect;  others  were  downright  fine. 
I  taught  the  Russian  language  and  reading  to  a 
young  Circassian — he  had  been  transported  to  Siberia 
for  robbery  with  murder.  How  grateful  he  was  to 
me  !  Another  convict  wept  when  I  said  good-bye  to 
him.  Certainly  I  had  often  given  him  money,  but  it 
was  so  little,  and  his  gratitude  so  boundless.  My 
character,  though,  was  deteriorating;  in  my  relations 
with  others  I  was  ill-tempered  and  impatient.  They 
accounted  for  it  by  my  mental  condition,  and  bore  all 
without  grumbling.  Apropos:  what  a  number  of 
national  types  and  characters  I  became  familiar  with 
in  the  prison  !  I  lived  into  their  lives,  and  so  I 
believe  I  know  them  really  well.  Many  tramps'  and 
thieves'  careers  were  laid  bare  to  me,  and,  above  all, 
the  whole  wretched  existence  of  the  common  people. 
Decidedly  I  have  not  spent  my  time  there  in  vain.  I 
have  learnt  to  know  the  Russian  people  as  only  a  few 
know  them.  I  am  a  little  vain  of  it.  I  hope  that 
such  vanity  is  pardonable. 

Brother  !    Be  sure  to  tell  me  of  all  the  most  im- 
portant events  in  your  life.    Send  the  official  letter 


JJT.  32]  BOOKS  AND  MONEY  63 

to  Semipalatinsk,  and  the  unofficial — whither  you  soon 
shall  know.  Tell  me  of  all  our  acquaintances  in  Peters- 
burg, of  literature  (as  many  details  as  possible),  and 
finally  of  our  folks  in  Moscow.     How  is  our  brother 
Kolya  ?    What  (and  this  is  much  more  important)  is 
sister  Sacha  doing  ?     Is  Uncle  still  alive  ?     What  is 
brother  Andrey  about  ?     I  am  writing  to  our  aunt 
through  sister  Vera.  For  God's  sake,  keep  this  letter  a 
dead  secret,  and  burn  it ;  it  might  compromise  various 
people.   Don't  forget,  dear  friend,  to  send  me  books. 
Above  all  things  histories  and  national  studies,  the 
0.   Z.,    the   Fathers   of   the   Church,    and   church- 
histories.     Don't  send  all  the  books  at  once,  though 
as  soon  after  one  another  as  possible.     I  am  dispens- 
ing your  money  for  you  as  if  it  were  my  own;  but 
only  because  your  present  situation  is  unknown  to 
me.    Write  fully  about  your  affairs,  so  that  I  may 
have  some  idea  of  them.     But  mark  this,  brother: 
books  are  my  life,  my  food,  my  future  !     For  God's 
sake,  don't  abandon  me.     I  pray  you  !  Try  to  get  per- 
mission to  send  me  the  books  quite  openly.     But  be 
cautious.     If  it  can  be  done  openly,  send  them  openly. 
But  if  it  can't,   then  send  them  through  brother 
Constantine  Ivanovitch,  to  his  address.     I  shall  get 
them.     Constantine  Ivanovitch,  by-the-bye,  is  going 
this  very  year  to  Petersburg;  he'll  tell  you  every- 
thing.    What  a  family  he  has  !     And  what  a  wife  ! 
She  is  a  young  girl,  the  daughter  of  the  Decembrist 
Annenkov.     Such  a  heart,  such  a  disposition — and  to 
think  of  what  they've  all  been  through  !     I  shall  set 
myself,  when  I  go  to  Semipalatinsk  in  a  week,  to 
find  a  new  covering  address.     I  am  not  quite  strong 
yet,  so  must  remain  here  a  while.     (Send  me  the 
Koran,  and  Kant's  "  Critique  of  Pure  Reason  "),  and 
if  you  have   the  chance  of  sending  anything  not 
officially,  then  be  sure  to  send  Hegel — but  particularly 


64  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxi 

Hegel's  "  History  of  Philosophy."  Upon  that  de- 
pends my  whole  future.  For  God's  sake,  exert  your- 
self for  me  to  get  me  transferred  to  the  Caucasus; 
try  to  find  out  from  well-informed  people  whether  I 
shall  be  permitted  to  print  my  works,  and  in  what 
way  I  should  seek  this  sanction.  I  intend  to  try  for 
permission  in  two  or  three  years.  I  beg  you  to  sus- 
tain me  so  long.  Without  money  I  shall  be  destroyed 
by  military  kfe.  So  please  ! 

Perhaps  in  the  beginning  the  other  relatives  would 
support  me  too  ?  In  that  case  they  could  hand  the 
money  to  you,  and  you  would  send  it  to  me.  In  my 
letters  to  Aunt  and  to  Vera,  though,  I  never  ask  for 
money.  They  can  guess  themselves  that  I  want  it, 
if  they  think  about  me  at  all. 

Filippov,  before  he  left  for  Sebastopol,  gave  me 
twenty-five  roubles.  He  left  them  with  the  Com- 
mandant, Nabokov,  and  I  knew  nothing  about  it 
beforehand.  He  thought  that  I  should  have  no 
money.  A  kind  soul !  All  our  lot  are  doing  not  so 
badly  in  banishment.  Toll  has  done  his  time,  and 
now  lives  quite  tranquilly  in  Tomsk.  Yastr- 
chembsky  is  in  Tara;  his  time  is  drawing  to  an  end. 
Spyechnyov  is  in  the  Irkutsk  Government;  he  has 
won  general  liking  and  respect  there.  That  man's  is  a 
curious  destiny  !  Wherever,  and  in  whatever  circum- 
stances, he  may  appear,  even  the  most  inaccessible 
people  show  him  honour  and  respect.  Petrachevsky 
is  now  and  then  not  in  his  right  mind;  Monbelli  and 
Loov  are  well;  poor  Grigoryev  has  gone  clean  out  of 
his  senses  and  is  in  hospital.  And  how  goes  it  with 
you  ?  Do  you  still  see  a  great  deal  of  Mme. 
Plestcheiev  ?  What  is  her  son  doing  ?  From 
prisoners  who  passed  through  here,  I  heard  that  he  is 
alive  and  in  the  fortress  at  Orsk,  and  that  Golovinsky 
has  long  been  in  the  Caucasus.  How  goes  your 


JET.  32]  A  KIND  OF  LIBERTY  65 

literature,  and  your  interest  in  literature  ?  Are  you 
writing  anything  ?  What  is  Krayevsky  about,  and 
what  are  your  relations  with  him  ?  I  don't  care  for 
Ostrovsky;  I  have  read  nothing  by  Pissemsky; 
Drushinin  I  loathe.  I  was  enchanted  with  Eugenie 
Tur.  I  like  Krestovsky  too. 

I  should  like  to  have  written  much  more;  but  so 
much  time  has  gone  by  that  even  this  letter  was 
somewhat  difficult  to  write.  But  it  really  cannot  be 
that  our  relation  is  altered  in  any  respect.  Kiss  your 
children.  Can  they  remember  Uncle  Fedya  at  all  ? 
Greet  all  acquaintances — but  keep  this  letter  a  dead 
secret.  Farewell,  farewell,  dear  fellow  !  You  shall 
hear  from  me  again,  and  perhaps  even  see  me.  Yes — 
we  shall  most  certainly  see  one  another  again  !  Fare- 
well. Read  attentively  all  that  I  write  to  you. 
Write  to  me  as  oftert-as  possible  (even  if  officially). 
I  embrace  you  and  all  yours  more  times  than  I  can 
count. 

Thy 

DOSTOEVSKY. 

P.S. — Have  you  received  my  children's  story,1  that 
I  wrote  in  the  fortress  ?    If  it  is  in  your  hands,  don't 
do  anything  with  it,  and  show  it  to  no  one.    Who  is 
Tschernov,  that  wrote  a  "  Double  "  in  1850  ? 
Till  next  time  ! 

Thy 
DOSTOEVSKY. 

1  He  means  "  The  Little  Hero."  The  story  did  not  appear 
till  1857  (in  the  O.  Z.,  under  the  pseudonym  "  M — y."). 


66  DOSTOEVSKI'S  LETTERS  [xxn 

XXII 

To  Mme.  N.  D.  Fonvisin1 

,** 

OMSK, 
Beginning  of  March,  1854. 

At  last  I  am  writing  to  you,  my  kind  N.  D.,  after 
leaving  my  former  place  of  abode.  When  I  last 
wrote,  I  was  sick  in  body  and  soul.  I  was  consumed 
with  longings,  and  I  daresay  my  letter  was  quite 
senseless.  That  long,  colourless,  physically  and 
morally  difficult  life  had  stifled  me.  It  is  always 
grievous  to  me  to  write  letters  at  such  times;  and  I 
regard  it  as  cowardice  to  force  one's  sorrow  on  others, 
even  when  they  are  very  fond  of  one.  I  send  you 
this  letter  indirectly,  and  I  am  glad  to  be  able  to 
speak  with  you  quite  unconstrainedly  at  last;  all 
the  more  because  1  have  been  transferred  to  Semi- 
palatinsk  to  the  seventh  battalion,  and  therefore 
don't  at  all  know  in  what  way  I  may  be  able  to  corre- 
spond with  you  in  future. 

[Dostoevsky  further  discusses  the  question  of  how 
he  may  most  safely  correspond  with  his  brother  and 
with  Mme.  Fonvisin.] 

With  what  delight  I  read  your  letter,  dearest 
N.  D.  You  write  quite  admirable  letters,  or,  more 
precisely,  your  letters  flow  easily  and  naturally  from 
your  good  kind  heart.  There  are  reserved  and  em- 
bittered natures,  which  only  in  very  rare  moments 
are  expansive.  I  know  such  people.  They  are  not 
necessarily  bad  people — quite  the  contrary,  indeed. 

1  Wife  of  the  Decembrist  M.  A.  Fonvisin.  Dostoevsky  had 
met  her  in  Tobolsk  in  1850.  During  his  captivity,  when  he 
himself  was  not  allowed  to  correspond  with  his  brother,  she 
was  his  only  medium  of  communication  with  the  outside 
world, 


JJT.  32]  DOSTOEVSKY'S  CREED  67 

I  don't  know  why,  but  I  guess  from  your  letter  that 
you  returned  home  in  bad  spirits.  I  understand  it ;  I 
have  sometimes  thought  that  if  ever  I  return  home,  I 
shall  get  more  grief  than  joy  from  my  impressions 
there.  I  have  not  lived  your  life,  and  much  in  it  is 
unknown  to  me,  and  indeed,  no  one  can  really  know 
exactly  his  fellow-mortal's  life ;  still,  human  feeling  is 
common  to  us  all,  and  it  seems  to  me  that  everyone 
who  has  been  banished  must  live  all  his  past  grief 
over  again  in  consciousness  and  memory,  on  his  return 
home.  It  is  like  a  balance,  by  which  one  can  test  the 
true  gravity  of  what  one  has  endured,  gone  through, 
and  lost.  God  grant  you  a  long  life  !  I  have  heard 
from  many  people  that  you  are  very  religious.  But 
not  because  you  are  religious,  but  because  I  myself 
have  learnt  it  and  gone  through  it,  I  want  to  say  to 
you  that  in  such  moments,  one  does,  "  like  dry  grass," 
thirst  after  faith,  and  that  one  finds  it  in  the  end, 
solely  and  simply  because  one  sees  the  truth  more 
clearly  when  one  is  unhappy.  I  want  to  say  to  you, 
about  myself,  that  I  am  a  child  of  this  age,  a  child  of 
unfaith  and  scepticism,  and  probably  (indeed  I  know 
it)  shall  remain  so  to  the  end  of  my  life.  How  dread- 
fully has  it  tormented  me  (and  torments  me  even 
now) — this  longing  for  faith,  which  is  all  the  stronger 
for  the  proofs  I  have  against  it.  And  yet  God  gives 
me  sometimes  moments  of  perfect  peace;  in  such 
moments  I  love  and  believe  that  I  am  loved;  in  such 
moments  I  have  formulated  my  creed,  wherein  all 
is  clear  and  holy  to  me.  This  creed  is  extremely 
simple;  here  it  is:  I  believe  that  there  is  nothing 
lovelier,  deeper,  more  sympathetic,  more  rational, 
more  manly,  and  more  perfect  than  the  Saviour;  I 
say  to  myself  with  jealous  love  that  not  only  is  there 
no  one  else  like  Him,  but  that  there  could  be  no  one. 
I  would  even  say  more :  If  anyone  could  prove  to  me 


68  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxn 

that  Christ  is  outside  the  truth,  and  if  the  truth  really 
did  exclude  Christ,  I  should  prefer  to  stay  with  Christ 
and  not  with  truth. 

I  would  rather  not  say  anything  more  about  it. 
And  yet  I  don't  know  why  certain  topics  may  never 
be  touched  on  in  society,  and  why,  if  anyone  does 
introduce  them,  it  makes  the  others  uncomfortable. 
Still,  enough  of  it.  I  heard  that  you  were  desirous 
of  travelling  somewhere  in  the  South.  God  grant 
that  you  may  succeed  in  obtaining  permission  to  do 
so.  But  will  you  please  tell  me  when  we  shall  be 
quite  free,  or  at  any  rate  as  free  as  other  people  ?  Per- 
haps only  when  we  no  longer  need  freedom  ?  For  my 
part,  I  want  all  or  nothing.  In  my  soldier's  uniform 
I  am  the  same  prisoner  as  before.  I  rejoice  greatly 
that  I  find  there  is  patience  in  my  soul  for  quite  a 
long  time  yet,  that  I  desire  no  earthly  possessions, 
and  need  nothing  but  books,  the  possibility  of  writing, 
and  of  being  daily  for  a  few  hours  alone.  The  last 
troubles  me  most.  For  almost  five  years  I  have 
been  constantly  under  surveillance,  or  with  several 
other  people,  and  not  one  hour  alone  with  myself. 
To  be  alone  is  a  natural  need,  like  eating  and  drink- 
ing ;  for  in  that  kind  of  concentrated  communism  one 
becomes  a  whole-hearted  enemy  of  mankind.  The 
constant  companionship  of  others  works  like  poison 
or  plague;  and  from  that  unendurable  martyrdom  I 
most  suffered  in  the  last  four  years.  There  were 
moments  in  which  I  hated  every  man,  whether  good 
or  evil,  and  regarded  him  as  a  thief  who,  unpunished, 
was  robbing  me  of  life.  The  most  unbearable  part  is 
when  one  grows  unjust,  malignant,  and  evil,  is  aware 
of  it,  even  reproves  one's-self,  and  yet  has  not  the 
power  to  control  one's-self.  I  have  experienced  that. 
I  am  convinced  that  God  will  keep  you  from  it.  I 


MT.  32]  DREADS  AND  WISHES  69 

believe  that  you,  as  a  woman,  have  more  power  to 
forgive  and  to  endure. 

Do  write  me  a  line,  N.  D.  I  am  now  going  to  a 
veritable  desert,  to  Asia,  and  there,  in  Semipalatinsk, 
it  seems  to  me  that  all  my  past,  all  memories  and  im- 
pressions, will  leave  me;  for  the  last  human  beings 
whom  I  still  had  to  love,  and  who  were  like  a  shadow 
of  my  past,  will  now  have  to  desert  me.  I  get  so  dread- 
fully quickly  used  to  people,  and  grow  into  my  en- 
vironment so  tenaciously,  that  I  never  can  tear  myself 
away,  when  the  time  comes,  without  great  pain.  I 
wish  for_yow,  N.  D.,  that  you  may  live  as  happily  and 
as  long  as  possible  !  If  we  ever  meet  again,  we  shall 
learn  to  know  one  another  afresh,  and  each  of  us  may 
perhaps  still  have  many  happy  days.  I  live  in  con- 
stant expectancy;  I  am  always  rather  ill  now,  and  I 
feel  that  soon,  very  soon,  something  decisive  must 
happen,  that  I  am  nearing  the  crucial  moment  of  my 
whole  life,  am  ripe  for  anything  that  may  come — and 
that  perhaps  something  tranquil  and  bright,  perhaps 
something  menacing,  but  in  any  case  something  in- 
evitable, closely  impends.  Otherwise  my  whole  life 
would  be  a  failure.  Perhaps  it  has  all  been  but  a 
sick  delirium  !  Farewell,  N.  D.,  or  rather  au  revoir; 
we'll  hope,  won't  we  ?  that  we  shall  see  one  another 
again  ! 

Your 
D. 

P.S. — For  goodness'  sake  forgive  this  untidy,  greasy 
letter !  But,  on  my  sacred  honour,  I  can't  write  with- 
out erasures.  Don't  be  cross  with  me. 


70  DOSTOIEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxm 

XXIII 

To  Mme.  Maria  Dmitryevna  Issayev1 

FROM  SEMIPALATINSK  TO  KUSNEZK 

[IN  THE  TOMSK  GOVERNMENT], 

June  4,  1855. 

A  thousand  thanks  for  your  dear  letter  on  the 
journey,  my  dear  and  unforgettable  friend  Maria 
Dmitryevna.  I  hope  that  you  and  Alexander  Ivano- 
vitch2  will  allow  me  to  call  you  both  friends.  We  cer- 
tainly were  friends  here,  and  I  trust  we  shall  remain 
so.  Is  mere  separation  to  alter  us  ?  I  believe  not; 
for  the  parting  from  you,  my  dear  friends,  lies  so 
heavily  upon  me  that  by  that  alone  I  can  judge  how 
very  much  I  cling  to  you.  Just  imagine :  this  is  the 
second  letter  I  have  written  to  you.  I  had  an  answer 
to  your  dear  cordial  letter  ready  for  the  earlier  post, 
dear  Maria  Dmitryevna,  but  I  never  sent  it.  Alex- 
ander Yegorovitch,3  who  was  to  have  taken  it  to  the 
post,  quite  suddenly  left  for  Smyev  last  Saturday, 
and  I  never  heard  of  his  departure  till  Sunday.  His 
servant  simultaneously  disappeared  for  two  days,  and 
the  letter  remained  in  my  pocket.  Hard  luck  !  I 
am  now  writing  to  you  again,  but  know  not  if  this 
letter  will  get  off  either.  Alexander  Yegorovitch  is 
not  back  yet.  But  they  have  sent  a  special  messenger 
after  him. 

Here  we  hourly  expect  the  Governor-General;  he 
may  perhaps  be  already  arrived.  It  is  said  that  he 
will  spend  about  five  days  here.  But  enough  of 
that.  How  did  you  arrive  at  Kusnezk  ?  I  hope 
and  pray  that  nothing  happened  to  you  on  the 

1  Dostoavsky's  future  wife.     Compare  the  reminiscences  of 
Baron  Vrangel,  in  the  Appendix. 
a  The  lady's  husband. 
3  Baron  Vrangel. 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  MOTHEK. 


JET.  33]         A  WOMAN'S  INFLUENCE  71 

way.  You  write  that  you  are  depressed  and  even  ill. 
So  I  am  most  anxious  about  you.  The  mere  move 
caused  you  such  trouble  and  such  unavoidable  dis- 
comforts, and  now  there's  this  illness  added  !  How 
are  you  to  bear  it  all  ?  I  can  think  of  nothing  but 
you.  You  know  how  apprehensive. I  am,  so  you  can 
picture  my  anxiety.  My  God,  how  little  you — you, 
who  might  be  an  ornament  to  any  society — deserve 
this  fate  with  all  its  petty  cares  and  contrarieties  ! 
Accursed  destiny  !  I  await  your  letter  with  im- 
patience. If  only  it  would  come  by  this  post  !  I 
went  several  times  to  find  out  if  it  had;  but  Alex- 
ander Yegorovitch  is  not  back  yet.  You  ask  me  how 
I  pass  the  time,  and  how  I  arrange  my  day  without 
you.  For  a  fortnight  I  have  not  known  what  to  do 
with  myself,  so  sad  am  I.  If  you  only  knew  how 
orphaned  I  now  feel !  It  is  just  like  the  time  when 
they  arrested  me  in  1849,  put  me  in  prison,  and  tore 
me  from  all  that  I  loved  and  prized.  So  very  much 
had  I  grown  to  you.  I  never  looked  upon  our  inter- 
course as  an  ordinary  acquaintanceship,  and  now, 
when  I  no  longer  have  you  near  me,  I  begin  to  under- 
stand many  things.  I  have  lived  for  five  years 
entirely  without  human  relations — quite  alone,  with- 
out a  creature  to  whom  I  could  open  my  heart.  But 
you  two  treated  me  like  a  brother.  I  remember  that 
from  the  very  first,  I  felt  at  home  in  your  house. 
Alexander  Ivanovitch  could  not  have  been  kinder  to 
his  own  brother  than  he  was  to  me.  With  my  un- 
endurable character,  I  must  have  caused  you  much 
vexation,  and  yet  you  both  loved  me.  I  recognize  it 
and  feel  it,  for  indeed  I  am  not  quite  heartless.  You 
are  a  wonderful  woman;  you  have  a  heart  of  rare 
child-like  kindliness,  and  you  were  like  a  sister  to  me. 
The  mere  fact  that  a  woman  should  treat  me  in  so 
friendly  a  way  was  a  great  event  in  my  life.  For 


72  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxm 

even  the  best  man  is  often,  if  I  may  say  so,  a  block. 
Woman's  heart,  woman's  compassion,  woman's  sym- 
pathy, the  endless  kindness  of  which  we  have  no 
clear  perception,  and  which,  in  our  obtuseness,  we 
often  do  not  even  notice — these  are  irreplaceable. 
All  that  I  found  in  you;  even  apart  from  my  many 
failings,  a  sister  could  not  have  been  kinder  and 
more  tactful  to  me  than  you  were.  If  we  did  go 
through  some  violent  upheavals,  it  was  always 
because  I  was  ungrateful,  and  you  were  ill,  ex- 
acerbated, and  wounded;  you  were  wounded  be- 
cause the  disgusting  society-folk  neither  prized  nor 
understood  you,  and  anyone  with  your  energy  must 
revolt  against  all  injustice,  and  that  revolt  is  noble 
and  dignified.  These  are  the  essential  features  of 
your  character;  suffering  and  circumstances  have 
naturally  distorted  much  in  you — but,  by  God,  with 
what  usurer's  interest  was  any  such  failing  always 
redeemed  !  And  since  I  was  not  stupid  all  the  time, 
I  saw  and  treasured  it.  In  one  word,  I  had  to  love 
your  house  as  my  very  own  home — I  could  not  do 
otherwise.  I  shall  never  forget  you  both,  and  shall 
be  ever  grateful  to  you.  For  I  am  convinced  that 
neither  of  you  has  the  least  idea  of  all  you  did  for 
me,  and  how  very  necessary  to  me  were  just  such 
people  as  you.  If  I  had  not  had  you,  I  should  most 
likely  have  turned  into  a  block  of  wood;  but  now  I 
am  a  human  being  again.  But  enough;  it  is  not  to 
be  expressed,  least  of  all  in  a  letter.  I  curse. this 
letter,  because  it  reminds  me  of  our  parting ;  every- 
thing reminds  me  of  that.  In  the  twilight,  in  those 
hours  when  I  used  to  go  to  you,  such  grief  over- 
whelms me  that  I  could  weep  if  I  were  at  all  prone 
to  do  so;  and  I  know  you  would  not  laugh  at  my 
tears.  Once  for  all,  my  heart  is  so  constituted  that 
everything  it  loves  and  treasures  grows  deeply  rooted 


JBT.  33]  THE  PARTING  73 

in  it,  and  when  uptorn,  causes  wounds  and  suffering. 
I  live  quite  solitary  here  now,  and  have  no  idea  what 
to  do  with  myself;  everything  is  spoilt  for  me.  A 
frightful  blank  !  I  have  only  Alexander  Yegorovitch 
now ;  but  in  his  company  I  always  feel  sad,  for  always 
I  involuntarily  compare  myself  with  him,  and  you 
can  easily  imagine  what  that  results  in.  In  any  case, 
he's  away  just  at  present.  During  his  absence  I  have 
been  twice  in  the  Kasakov  Gardens,  and  I  did  feel  so 
sad  !  When  I  think  of  last  summer,  when  you,  poor 
dear,  had  only  one  wish,  to  get  out  into  the  country 
so  that  you  might  have  a  breath  of  fresh  air — great 
grief  comes  over  me,  and  I  feel  frightfully  sorry  for 
you.  Do  you  remember  how  we — you,  Alexander 
Ivanovitch,  I,  and  Elena — were  once  in  the  Kasakov 
Gardens  ?  How  vivid  was  the  sense  of  it,  when  I  went 
there  again  !  In  the  Gardens  nothing  is  changed,  and 
the  seat  on  which  we  sat  is  still  standing  there.  .  .  . 
And  I  felt  so  sad.  You  write  suggesting  that  I 
sliould  live  with  Vrangel;  but  I  don't  want  to  do 
that,  for  I  have  several  weighty  reasons  against  it. 
First,  the  question  of  money.  If  I  lived  with  him,  I 
should  of  course  have  to  spend  much  more  money 
on  rent,  servants,  and  food,  for  I  wouldn't  live  at  his 
expense.  Second :  my  character.  Third :  his  character. 
Fourth:  I  have  noticed  that  he  is  much  visited  by  all 
sorts  of  people.  I  don't  mean  to  shut  myself  off  from 
society,  but  I  can't  stand  strangers.  Finally:  I  love 
solitude,  I  am  used  to  it,  and  use  is  second  nature. 
Enough.  I  have  really  told  you  nothing  yet.  After  I 
had  accompanied  you  to  the  forest  and  taken  leave  of 
you  under  a  pine-tree  (which  I've  marked),  I  returned 
arm-in-arm  with  Vrangel  (who  was  leading  his  horse 
by  the  bridle)  to  the  Pechechonov's  hospitable  abode. 
It  was  there  that  I  first  realized  my  desolate  state. 
At  first  I  could  see  your  travelling-carriage  in  the 


74  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxm 

distance,  then  only  hear  it,  and  at  last  it  was  quite 
gone.  We  got  into  the  droschky,  and  sat  talking  of 
you  both  and  of  how  you  would  bear  the  journey; 
and  it  was  then  that  Vrangel  told  me  something  that 
greatly  rejoiced  me.  On  the  day  of  your  departure, 
early  in  the  morning,  it  appears  that  Pyotr  Michail- 
ovitch  suggested  that  they  should  spend  the  whole 
evening  together  somewhere.  Vrangel  refused  the 
offer,  and  when  Pyotr  Michailovitch  asked  him  why, 
he  answered:  "  Because  I  must  see  the  Issayevs  off." 
There  were  some  other  people  there.  Pyotr  Michail- 
ovitch asked  at  once:  "Then  you  know  that  pair 
very  well  ?"  Vrangel  answered  somewhat  stiffly 
that  he  had  only  known  you  for  a  short  time,  but 
thought  your  house  one  of  the  pleasantest  possible, 
and  that  its  mistress — that  is,  you — was  a  woman  such 
as  he  had  seen  none  to  equal  since  he  had  been  in 
Petersburg,  and  probably  never  would  see  again;  a 
woman  "  such  as  you  have  never  seen  at  all,"  he 
added,  "  and  I  consider  her  acquaintance  the  greatest 
honour." 

This  story  of  Vrangel's  gave  me  extraordinary  joy. 
I  think  the  opinion  of  a  man  like  that,  who  knows 
ladies  in  the  best  society  (for  in  such  society  he  was 
born),  is  quite  decisive.  Talking  of  similar  subjects, 
and  continually  abusing  the  Pechechonovs,  we 
reached  the  town  about  sunrise.  And  the  driver,  to 
whom  we  had  given  no  orders,  took  us  straight  to  my 
house.  In  this  way  the  proposed  tea  fell  through,  of 
which  I  was  very  glad,  for  I  was  longing  to  be  alone. 
I  stayed  at  home  a  good  while,  walking  up  and  down 
in  my  room,  looking  at  the  sunrise,  and  going  over 
the  whole  past  year,  which  had  flown  by  so  rapidly  for 
me;  all  the  memories  came  uj),  and  I  grew  very  sad, 
thinking  of  my  future.  From  that  day  I  wander 
about  aimlessly,  like  the  Wandering  Jew.  I  go 


ST.  33]  A  BAD  OLD  WOMAN  75 

scarcely  anywhere.  Everything  seems  tiresome; 
I've  been  once  to  Grischin's,  who  is  going  to  Kopal, 
and  is  now  breaking  up  house  (he's  going  to  Vyerny 
too);  to  Mader's,  who  says  I've  grown  thin;  to 
Schulitchka's  (I  took  him  my  birthday  greetings), 
where  I  met  the  Pechechonovs  and  talked  with  them  ; 
I  visit  Byelichov  now  and  then;  and  finally,  go  to 
camp  for  drill.  I  am  frequently  ill.  How  impatiently 
I  awaited  the  return  of  the  Tartar  guides  !  Every 
minute  I  was  running  to  Ordynsky's  to  find  out 
something  about  it,  and  so  was  Silota.  I  have  also 
been  once  to  your  house,  brought  away  the  ivy  (it's 
here  now),  and  saw  the  orphaned  Surka,  who  ran  to 
meet  me,  crazy  with  joy,  but  will  not  be  induced  to 
leave  the  house.  At  last  the  guides  came  back. 
Your  letter,  for  which  I  thank  you  infinitely,  was  a 
great  joy  to  me.  I  asked  the  Tartars  many  a  ques- 
tion. They  told  me  a  lot,  and  praised  you  above  all 
things  (everyone  praises  you,  Maria  Dmitryevna  !). 
I  gave  them  a  little  money.  The  next  day  I  met 
Koptyov  at  Vrangel's.  He  told  me  things  too,  but 
I  couldn't  ask  him  about  what  interested  me  most  of 
all,  namely,  how  your  travelling-expenses  had  worked 
out.  The  question  was  too  "  ticklish."  To  this 
day  I  can't  imagine  how  you  ever  got  over  the 
journey  !  How  dear  your  letter  is,  Maria  Dmitryevna  ! 
I  expected  just  such  an  one.  It  is  so  full  of  detail; 
write  me  letters  like  that  always.  I  can  see  your 
grandmother  as  if  she  were  before  my  eyes.  The 
bad  old  woman  !  How  she  adds  to  your  troubles 
and  embitters  your  life.  May  she  stay  with  her  lap- 
dog  to  the  end  of  her  days  !  I  hope  that  Alexander 
Ivanovitch  will  squeeze  that  last  \vi\l  and  testament 
out  of  her,  without  ever  letting  her  enter  the  house  in 
person.  She  must  be  made  to  see  that  it's  the  best 
arrangement  even  for  herself;  otherwise,  she  must 


76  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxm 

undertake  in  writing  to  die  within  three  months  (and 
for  each  month  pay  1,000  roubles) ;  on  that  condition 
alone  should  you  receive  her.  Shall  you  really,  with 
your  feeble  health,  be  obliged  to  attend  to  all  the 
lap-dogs  ?  Such  old  women  are  truly  unbearable  ! 
I  read  your  letter  to  Vrangel — only  parts  of  it,  of 
course.  I  could  not  help  going  once  to  see  Elena: 
the  poor  thing  is  so  lonely.  I  am  so  immensely  sorry 
that  you  were  ill  on  the  way  !  When  shall  I  get  a 
letter  from  you  ?  I  am  so  anxious  !  How  were  you 
on  arrival  ?  I  shake  Alexander  Ivanovitch  mightily 
by  the  hand,  and  kiss  him.  I  hope  he'll  soon  write 
to  me.  I  embrace  him  warmly  as  friend  and  brother, 
and  wish  him  better  health  than  he  had  here.  And 
does  he  mean  to  be  as  entirely  indiscriminate  about 
people  in  Kusnezk  as  he  was  in  Semipalatinsk  ?  Are 
all  those  fellows  really  worth  associating  with,  eating 
and  drinking  with,  and,  afterwards,  taking  all  con- 
ceivable basenesses  from  ?  In  that  way  one  injures 
one's-self  with  eyes  wide  open.  What  a  loathsome 
lot  they  are,  and  above  all,  what  a  dirty  lot !  When 
one  was  in  their  company,  one  often  felt  one's  soul  to 
be  as  soiled  as  if  one  were  in  a  low  dram-shop.  I  hope 
Alexander  Ivanovitch  won't  be  angry  with  me  for 
my  wishes  and  my  advice.  Farewell,  unforgettable 
Maria  Dmitryevna — farewell !  We  shall  meet  again, 
shan't  we  ?  Write  to  me  very  often  and  very  much, 
write  to  me  about  Kusnezk,  about  the  new  people 
you  know,  and  as  much  as  possible  about  yourself. 
Kiss  Pasha  from  me.  Farewell,  farewell — oh,  when 
shall  we  see  one  another  again  ? 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


JET.  34]  SYMPATHY  77 

XXIV 

To  Mme.  Praskovya  Yegor ovna  Annenkov^ 

SEMIPALATINSK, 

October  18,  1855. 

PRASKOVYA  YEGOROVNA  ! 

I  wanted  to  write  to  you  long  ago,  and  have 
waited  so  long  for  a  suitable  opportunity  that  I  will 
not  delay  now  that  one  presents  itself.  The  bearer 
of  this  letter,  Alexey  Ivanovitch  Bachirev,  is  a  very 
modest  and  very  excellent  young  man,  a  simple  and 
honest  soul.  I  have  known  him  now  for  a  year  and 
a  half,  and  am  sure  that  I  am  not  mistaken  in  his 
qualities. 

I  shall  ever  remember  the  full,  cordial  sympathy 
which  you  and  your  whole  excellent  family  showed 
to  me  and  my  companions  in  misfortune  on  my 
arrival  in  Siberia.  I  think  of  that  sympathy  with  a 
quite  peculiar  sense  of  solace,  and  shall  never,  I  think, 
forget  it.  He  who  has  learnt  by  his  own  experience 
what  "  hostile  destiny "  means,  and  in  certain 
moments  has  savoured  the  full  bitterness  of  such  a 
lot,  knows  also  how  sweet  it  then  is  to  meet,  quite 
unexpectedly,  with  brotherly  compassion. 

It  was  thus  that  you  showed  yourselves  to  me, 
and  I  often  recall  my  meeting  with  you,  when  you 
came  to  Omsk  and  I  was  still  in  the  prison. 

Since  my  arrival  at  Semipalatinsk,  I  have  heard 
almost  nothing  of  Constantine  Ivanovitch,  and  the 
much-honoured  Olga  Ivanovna;2  my  intercourse  with 
Olga  Ivanovna  will  for  ever  be  one  of  the  pleasantest 
memories  of  my  life.  Eighteen  months  ago,  when 

1  Wife  of  the  well-known  Decembrist  Annenkov. 

a  These  were  the  son-in-law  and  the  daughter  of  Mine. 
Annenkov,  Constantine  Ivanovitch  Ivanov,  and  Olga 
Ivanovna. 


78  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxiv 

Dourov  and  I  left  the  prison,  we  spent  nearly  a  month 
in  her  house. 

You  can  well  imagine  the  effect  that  such  inter- 
course must  have  had  on  a  man  who  for  four  years, 
adapting  myself,  as  I  did,  to  my  fellow-prisoners,  had 
lived  like  a  slice  cut  from  a  loaf,  or  a  person  buried 
underground.  Olga  Ivanovna  held  out  her  hand  to 
me  like  a  sister,  and  the  memory  of  that  beautiful, 
pure,  proud,  and  noble  nature  will  be  clear  and  radiant 
all  my  life  long.  May  God  shower  much  happiness 
on  her,  happiness  for  herself  and  for  those  who  are 
dear  to  her !  I  should  like  to  hear  something  of  her. 
I  believe  that  such  beautiful  natures  as  hers  must 
always  be  happy;  only  the  evil  are  unhappy.  I  be- 
lieve that  happiness  lies  in  a  clear  conception  of  life 
and  in  goodness  of  heart,  not  in  external  circumstances. 
Is  it  not  so  ?  I  am  sure  that  you  will  understand  me 
rightly,  and  that  is  why  I  write  thus  to  you. 

My  life  goes  by  somehow  or  other;  but  I  may  con- 
fide to  you  that  I  have  great  hopes.  .  .  .  My  hopes 
are  based  on  certain  facts;  various  people  are  taking 
the  greatest  trouble  for  me  in  Petersburg,  and  I  shall 
perhaps  hear  something  in  a  few  months.  You  will 
probably  have  heard  that  Dourov  has  been  released 
from  military  service  on  account  of  his  health,  and 
has  now  entered  the  Civil  Service.  He  is  in  Omsk. 
Perhaps  you  have  news  of  him.  We  don't  correspond, 
though  we  keep  one  another  in  good  remembrance. 

Baron  Vrangel,  whom  you  know,  sends  you 
greeting.  I  am  friendly  with  him.  His  is  a  fine, 
fresh  nature;  God  grant  it  may  always  so  remain. 

My  profound,  entire,  and  sincere  respects  to  your 
husband.  I  wish  you  perfect  happiness.  Do  you 
happen  to  have  heard  anything  from  a  certain  oracle,1 

1  The  allusion  is  to  a  spiritualistic  stance,  at  which  Mme. 
Ivanovna  heard  an  astonishing  prophecy  with  regard  to  a 
question  of  inheritance. 


s.1. 34]  AN  OLD  FRIEND  79 

who  was  consulted  during  my  stay  at  Omsk  ?  I 
remember  still  what  a  deep  impression  it  made  upon 
Olga  Ivanovna. 

Farewell,  most  honoured  Praskovya  Yegorovna. 
I  am  sure  that  we  shall  meet  again,  and  perhaps 
quite  soon.     It  is  my  sincere  wish.     I  think  with 
veneration  of  you  and  all  yours. 

I  remain,  in  deepest  reverence, 

F.  DOSTOEVSKY. 

I  had  a  few  lines  from  Constantine  Ivanovitch  this 
summer. 

Though  I  much  esteem  the  bearer  of  this  letter, 
A.  I.  Bachirev,  I  don't  confide  all  things  to  him. 


XXV 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov1 

SEMIPALATINSK, 

January  18,  1856. 

I  meant  to  answer  your  kind  letter  long  ago,  my 
dear  Apollon  Nikolayevitch.  As  I  read  it,  there  came 
to  me  a  breath  of  the  past.  I  thank  you  a  thousand 
times  for  not  having  forgotten  me.  I  don't  know 
why,  but  I  always  had  the  feeling  that  you  wouldn't 
forget  me;  perhaps  because  I  can't  forget  you.  You 
write  that  much  has  altered  in  this  interval,  and  that 
we've  both  been  through  many  transformations.  For 
myself  I  can  answer.  I  could  tell  you  many  interest- 
ing  things  about  myself.  But  please  don't  be  angry 
with  me  for  writing  now  in  all  haste,  so  that  my  letter 
must  be  broken,  and  even  perhaps  confused.  I  am 
feeling  just  what  you  felt,  as  you  wrote — the  im- 
possibility of  expressing  one's-self  fully  after  so  many 
1  The  well-known  author  (1821-97). 


8o  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxv 

years,  even  though  one  should  write  fifty  pages.  One 
must  have  the  word  of  mouth  and  the  personal  con- 
tact, so  that  one  can  read  the  countenance  and  hear 
the  heart  speak  in  the  tone.  One  word,  spoken 
frankly,  two-by-two,  face  speaking  to  face,  means 
more  than  dozens  of  sheets  of  writing.  I  thank  you 
most  particularly  for  all  you  told  me  about  yourself. 

[Here  follow  some  remarks  about  people  with  whom 
Maikov  was  connected.] 

Perhaps  you  have  heard  something  of  me  from  my 
brother.  In  my  hours  of  leisure  I  am  putting  down 
a  good  many  notes  of  my  prison-memories.1  There 
are  but  few  personal  details  in  these  sketches,  though ; 
when  I've  finished  them,  and  if  a  really  good  oppor- 
tunity offers,  I'll  send  you  a  manuscript  copy  as  a 
keepsake. 

[Here  follows  a  cordial  recommendation  of  the 
bearer  of  this  letter,  Baron  A.  Vrangel.j 

You  write  that  you  have  thought  of  me  warmly,  and 
always  asked  yourself,  "  To  what  end,  to  what  end  ?" 
And  I  too  have  thought  warmly  of  you,  but  your 
question  "To  what  end?"  I  shall  answer  not  at  all; 
for  whatever  I  might  say  must  necessarily  be  waste  of 
words.  You  write  that  you  have  done  a  great  deal, 
thought  a  great  deal,  got  a  great  deal  that  is  new  from 
life.  It  could  not  have  been  otherwise,  and  I'm  sure 
that  we  should  now  agree  in  our  views.  For  I  too 
have  thought  a  great  deal  and  done  a  great  deal ;  such 
unusual  circumstances  and  influences  have  combined 
in  my  experience  that  I  have  had  to  undergo,  think, 
and  weigh  far  too  much,  more  than  my  strength  was 
equal  to.  As  you  know  me  very  well,  you'll  easily 
believe  that  in  all  things  I  was  guided  by  those  con- 
1  "  The  House  of  the  Dead,"  published  1861-62. 


J2T.  34]        RUSSIA'S  TRUE  MISSION  81 

siderations  which  seemed  to  me  to  be  just  and  upright, 
that  I  never  played  the  hypocrite,  and  that  when  I 
took  up  any  particular  matter,  I  put  my  whole  soul 
into  it.  Don't  think,  though,  that  I  mean  by  these 
words  to  refer  to  the  circumstances  which  have 
brought  me  here.  I  am  speaking  now  of  more  recent 
experiences;  nor  would  it  be  relevant  to  allude  to 
those  gone-by  occurrences — they  were  nothing  but  an 
episode,  after  all.  One's  views  alter;  one's  heart 
remains  the  same.  I  have  read  your  letter  through, 
but  failed  to  understand  the  most  essential  part  of  it. 
I  mean  about  patriotism,  the  Russian  Idea,  the  sense 
of  duty,  national  honour,  and  all  those  things  of 
which  you  speak  with  such  enthusiasm.  But,  my 
friend  !  were  you  ever  any  different  ?  For  /  was 
always  inspired  by  those  very  emotions  and  con- 
victions. Russia,  Duty,  Honour  ?  Why,  I  always 
was  Russian  through  and  through,  and  I  say  it  most 
decidedly.  What  then  is  "  new  "  about  the  move- 
ment which  is  becoming  perceptible  around  you,  and 
of  which  you  write  as  of  a  novel  tendency  ?  I  tell  you 
quite  frankly  that  I  don't  understand  you.  I  have 
read  your  poem,  and  thought  it  exquisite;  I  wholly 
share  your  patriotic  emotion,  your  efforts  towards  the 
moral  emancipation  of  the  Slavs.  It  is  there  that 
Russia's  mission  lies — our  noble,  mighty  Russia,  our 
holy  mother.  How  beautiful  are  the  concluding  lines 
of  your  "  Council  at  Clermont  "  !  Whence  do  you 
draw  the  eloquence  with  which  you  have  so  magnifi- 
cently expressed  those  powerful  thoughts?  Yes — 
indeed  I  do  share  your  idea  that  in  Russia  Europe 
will  find  her  final  account;  it  is  Russia's  true  mission. 
That  was  always  clear  to  me.  You  write  that  our 
society  "  seems  to  be  awakened  from  its  apathy."  Yet 
you  know  that  our  society  never  does  make  manifesta- 
tions; and  who  shall  conclude  therefrom  that  it  is 

6 


82  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxv 

nerveless  ?  Once  an  idea  is  really  made  clearly  mani- 
fest, and  society  called  upon  to  examine  it — society 
has  always  grasped  it  at  once.  And  so  it  is  now :  the 
Idea  has  been  grandly,  most  nationally  and  chival- 
rously (one  must  declare  that]  made  manifest — and 
behold,  that  very  political  ideal  which  Peter  the  Great 
fashioned  for  us  has  at  once  been  universally  accepted. 
Perhaps  you  were  and  are  offended  by  the  fact  that 
in  those  strata  of  society  where  people  consciously 
think,  feel,  and  investigate,  French  ideas  are  gaining 
ground  ?  Undoubtedly  there  is  a  tinge  of  exclusiveness 
in  that;  still  it  is  in  the  nature  of  all  exclusiveness 
instantly  to  produce  its  own  antithesis.  You  will 
admit  yourself  that  all  reasonable,  thinking  men — and 
that  means,  those  who  set  the  tone  in  everything — 
have  ever  regarded  French  ideas  from  a  purely 
scientific  standpoint,  and  that  even  they  who  most 
leaned  towards  exclusiveness,  remained  unchangingly 
Russian  throughout.  What  do  you  see  new  in  that  ? 
I  assure  you  that  /,  for  example,  feel  so  near  to  all 
Russians  that  even  the  convicts  never  alarmed  me; 
they  were  Russian,  they  were  my  brothers  in  misfor- 
tune; and  I  often  had  the  joy  of  discovering  magna- 
nimity in  the  soul  of  a  robber  and  murderer;  but  it 
was  only  because  I  am  Russian  myself  that  I  could 
thus  understand  him.  I  have  to  thank  my  ill-luck 
for  many  practical  experiences,  which  probably  have 
had  a  great  influence  upon  me;  but  I  learnt  at  the 
same  time  that  in  my  very  inmost  being  I  always 
have  been  Russian.  One  may  be  mistaken  in  an 
idea,  but  one  can't  mistake  one's  heart,  and  lose  one's 
conscience  by  reason  of  the  mental  error — by  which 
I  mean,  one  can't  act  against  one's  convictions. 

But  why  am  I  writing  all  this  to  you  ?  I  know 
well  that  these  lines  don't  in  the  least  express  what  I 
mean;  then  why  do  I  go  on  writing  ?  I'll  tell  you, 


XT.  34]       BEGINNING  WORK  AGAIN  83 

instead,  some  things  about  myself.  In  prison  I  read 
only  very  little,  for  I  couldn't  get  any  of  the  books  I 
wanted,  though  often  books  of  a  sort  came  into  my 
hands.  Since  I've  been  here  in  Semipalatinsk,  I've 
read  rather  more ;  but  still  I  have  no  books,  not  even 
necessary  ones,  at  hand,  and  time  is  going  by.  I 
couldn't  at  all  tell  you  how  very  much  I  suffered 
from  not  being  allowed  to  write  in  prison.  My 
mental  labour  comes  only  thus  "  to  the  boil."  Some 
things  were  all  right;  I  felt  it.  I  planned  out  in  that 
way  a  great  novel,  which  I  consider  will  be  my  de- 
finitive work.  I  was  dreadfully  afraid  that  the  first 
passion  for  my  work  would  have  gone  cold  when  the 
years  had  passed,  and  the  hour  of  realization  struck 
at  last — that  passion  without  which  one  cannot  write. 
But  I  was  mistaken :  the  figure  which  I  had  conceived, 
and  which  is  the  basis  of  the  whole  book,  needed  some 
years  for  its  development,  and  I  am  convinced  that  I 
should  have  ruined  all  if  I  had  then,  unready  as  I 
was,  begun  the  work  in  the  first  flush  of  zeal.  But 
even  when  I  left  the  prison,  I  did  not  set  to,  though 
all  was  quite  ready  in  my  mind.  I  simply  could  not 
write.  A  circumstance,  a  contingency,  which  long 
had  delayed  to  enter  my  life  and  then  at  last  did 
invade  it,  wholly  carried  me  away,  intoxicated  me. 
I  was  happy,  I  could  not  work.  Later  I  was  to  know 
grief  and  sadness.  I  lost  something  which  was  my 
all.  Hundreds  of  versts  now  divide  us.1  I  won't 
speak  more  precisely,  but  will  perhaps  explain  all  at 
some  other  time;  now  I  cannot.  .  .  .  However,  I 
have  not  been  wholly  idle.  I  have  done  some  work; 
but  the  carrying-out  of  my  chef  d'ceuvre  I  have  post- 
poned. For  that  I  need  to  be  in  a  more  tranquil 
mood.  I  began  for  fun  to  write  a  comedy;  I  invented 
so  many  droll  characters  and  episodes,  and  liked  my 

1  The  reference  is  to  Mme.  Issayev,  later  Dostoevsky's  wife. 


84  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxv 

hero  so  much,  that  I  abandoned  the  form  of  comedy 
(although  I  quite  enjoyed  it)  solely  that  I  might 
prolong  as  far  as  possible  the  pursuit  of  this  new 
hero's  experiences,  and  my  own  laughter  at  him.  He 
is  like  myself  in  many  respects.  In  a  word,  I  am 
writing  a  comic  novel;1  hitherto  I  have  been  de- 
scribing only  separate  adventures,  but  now  I've  had 
enough  of  that,  and  am  unifying  the  whole. 

There's  my  full  report  of  work;  I  can't  help  writing 
it  all  to  you;  when  I  talk  with  you,  my  unforget- 
table friend,  I  keep  thinking  of  our  past.  Indeed, 
I  was  so  often  happy  in  your  company — how  could  I 
forget  you  ?  You  write  of  literature — for  a  year  I've 
hardly  read  anything.  I'll  give  you  my  impressions, 
such  as  they  are:  Turgenev  pleases  me  best;  it  is 
only  a  pity  that  he's  so  often  unequal  to  his  great 
talent.  L.  T.2  I  like  very  well,  but  I  have  an  idea 
that  he  won't  do  much  (perhaps  I'm  mistaken,  how- 
ever). Ostrovsky  I  don't  know  at  all;  I've  read 
nothing  of  his,  though  I've  seen  many  extracts  from 
his  works  in  the  articles  about  him.  He  may  know 
a  certain  section  of  Russian  society  very  accurately, 
but  I  don't  believe  he's  an  artist.  Moreover  he 
seems  to  me  a  writer  utterly  without  ideals.  Please 
try  to  persuade  me  to  the  contrary;  for  goodness' 
sake,  send  me  those  works  of  his  which  you  consider 
the  best,  that  I  may  not  be  acquainted  only  with  the 
criticisms  of  him.  Of  Pissemsky  I  know  only  the 
"  Swaggerer  "  and  the  "  Rich  Suitor  " — nothing  else. 
I  like  him  very  much.  He  is  sane,  good-humoured, 
and  even  naive;  he  can  tell  a  story  like  a  master. 
One  thing  is  a  pity:  he  writes  too  fast.  He  writes 
much  too  fast,  and  much  too  much.  A  man  should 
have  more  ambition,  more  respect  for  his  talent  and 
his  craft,  and  more  love  for  art.  When  one's  young, 

1  "  Uncle's  Dream."  3  Leo  Tolstoy. 


*T.  34]          MADAME  DE  SEVIGN6  85 

0 

ideas  come  crowding  incredibly  into  one's  head;  but 
one  should  not  capture  each  and  all  of  them  as  it  flies, 
and  rush  to  give  it  forth.  One  should  rather  await 
the  synthesis,  and  think  more;  wait  till  the  many 
single  details  which  make  up  an  idea  have  gathered 
themselves  into  a  nucleus,  into  a  large,  imposing 
picture;  then,  and  not  till  then,  should  one  write 
them  down.  The  colossal  figures,  created  by  the 
colossal  writers,  have  often  grown  out  of  long,  stub- 
born labour.  But  the  attempts  and  sketches  that 
go  to  the  picture  should  not  be  displayed  at  all. 
I  don't  know  if  you'll  understand  me  !  But,  as  far 
as  Pissemsky  goes,  I  think  that  he  doesn't  hold  his 
pen  sufficiently  in  check.  Our  literary  ladies  write 
like  other  literary  ladies — that  is,  cleverly,  neatly, 
and  with  much  fluency  of  expression.  Tell  me, 
please,  why  a  woman-writer  is  almost  never  a 
serious  artist  ?  Even  the  undoubtedly  colossal 
artist,  George  Sand,  often  spoilt  herself  by  her 
purely  feminine  traits.  .  .  .  During  the  whole  time 
there,  I  came  across  many  of  your  short  poems  in 
the  newspapers.  ...  1  liked  them  greatly.  Be 
strong  and  labour.  I'll  tell  you  in  confidence,  in 
strict  confidence:  Tyutchev1  is  very  remarkable, 
but  .  .  .  etcetera.  What  Tyutchev  is  it,  by-the- 
bye — is  it  our  one  ?  Many  of  his  poems  are  excellent. 
Farewell,  my  dear  friend.  Excuse  the  incoherence 
of  this  letter.  One  never  can  say  anything  properly 
in  a  letter.  On  that  account  alone  I  can't  bear 
Mme.  de  Sevigne*.  She  wrote  much  too  good 
letters.  .  .  .  Who  knows  ?  Perhaps  I  shall  some  day 
clasp  you  in  my  arms  again.  May  God  so  appoint  it  ! 
For  God's  sake,  show  my  letter  to  nobody  (really 
nobody)  !  I  embrace  you. 

1  Fyodor  Tyutchev  (1803-73),  the  moat  profound  of  Russian 
poet-  philosophers. 


86  DOSTOEVSKY  S  LETTERS          [xxvi 

XXVI 

To  General  E.  I.  Totleben1 

SEMIPALATINSK, 

March  24,  1856. 

Your  Excellency  Eduard  Ivanovitch !  Forgive 
me  for  daring  to  ask  your  attention  to  this  letter. 
I  fear  that  when  you  see  the  signature  and  my  name, 
which  you  may  indeed  have  forgotten — though  many, 
many  years  ago  I  had  the  honour  of  being  known  to 
you — you  will  be  angry  with  me  and  toss  the  letter 
aside  without  reading  it.  I  beg  for  your  indulgence. 
You  might  well  rebuke  me  if  I  failed  to  realize  the 
quite  unfathomable  gulf  between  my  position  and 
yours.  But  I  have  gone  through  too  many  sorrow- 
ful experiences  in  my  life  to  be  capable  of  overlooking 
that  gulf.  I  know  very  well  indeed  that  I  have  no 
right  whatever  to  remind  you  that  you  once  knew 
me,  and  thus  to  make  even  the  shadow  of  a  claim 
on  your  attention.  But  I  am  so  unhappy  that, 
almost  against  my  will,  I  must  yield  to  the  hope  that 
you  will  not  close  your  heart  to  an  unfortunate  exile, 
and  will  grant  him  a  moment's  attention. 

I  have  requested  Baron  Alexander  Vrangel  to 
take  you  this  letter.  During  his  stay  in  Semipala- 
tinsk,  he  has  done  more  for  me  than  my  own  brother 
could  have  done.  His  friendship  made  me  happy. 
He  knows  all  my  circumstances.  I  begged  him  to 
take  you  this  letter  in  person ;  he  will  do  so,  although 
I  could  not  tell  him  with  any  conviction  that  you 
would  receive  the  letter  indulgently.  Such  doubts 

1  Eduard  Totleben  (1818-84),  the  distinguished  soldier  and 
engineer;  builder  of  the  fortifications  of  Sebastopol,  which 
resisted  the  united  armies  for  twelve  months. 


JJT.  34]  PLEADING  87 

are  easily  comprehensible  in  the  heart  of  a  one-time 
prisoner.  I  have  a  great  favour  to  ask  of  you,  and 
only  a  faint  hope  that  you  will  hear  me. 

Perhaps  you  have  heard  something  of  my  arrest, 
my  trial,  and  the  supreme  ratification  of  the  sentence 
which  was  given  in  the  case  concerning  me  in  the 
year  1849.     Perhaps  you  also  bestowed  some  attention 
on  my  fate.     I  base  that  supposition  on  the  fact  that 
I  once  was  great  friends  with  your  brother  Adolf 
Ivanovitch — as   a   child,    even,    I   loved   him   very 
sincerely.     Although  of  late  years  I  have  not  come 
in  contact  with  him,  I  am  still  sure  that  he  pitied 
me,  and  perhaps  told  you  something  of  my  sad  story. 
I  dare  not  take  up  your  time  with  an  account  of  my 
trial.     I  was  guilty,  and  am  very  conscious  of  it.     1 
was  convicted  of  the  intention  (but  only  the  inten- 
tion) of  acting  against  the  Government;  I  was  law- 
fully and  quite  justly  condemned;   the  hard  and 
painful  experiences  of  the  ensuing  years  have  sobered 
me,  and  altered  my  views  in  many  respects.     But 
then,  while  I  was  still  blind,  I  believed  in  all  the 
theories  and  Utopias.    When  I  went  to  Siberia,  I 
had  at  least  the  one  comfort  of  having  borne  myself 
honestly  before  the  tribunal,  of  not  having  tried  to 
shift  my  guilt  on  others,  and  even  of  having  sacrificed 
my  own  interests,  if  thereby  I  thought  I  could  save 
those  others.    But  I  was  at  that  time  still  convinced 
of  the  truth  of  my  opinions;  I  would  not  confess  all, 
and  so  was  the  more  sternly  punished.     Previously 
I  had  suffered  for  two  years  from  a  strange  moral 
disease:  I  had  fallen  into  hypochondria.    There  was 
a  time  when  I  even  lost  my  reason.     I  was  exagger- 
atedly irritable,  had  a  morbidly  developed  sensibility, 
and  the  power  of  distorting  the  most  ordinary  events 
into  things  immeasurable.     But  I  felt  that  though 
this  disease  had  had  a  really  evil  influence  upon  my 


88  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxvi 

destiny,  it  was  nevertheless  a  poor  and  even  a  de- 
grading excuse  for  me.  And  I  was  not  so  entirely 
convinced,  either,  that  it  had  had  that  influence. 
Forgive  these  details.  Be  generous,  and  hear  me 
further. 

I  went  to  prison — four  sad,  terrible  years.     My 
companions  were  criminals,  men  quite  without  human 
emotions,  and  with  perverted  morals;  for  those  four 
years  I  beheld  nothing  uplifting — only  the  blackest 
and  ugliest  "  realities."     I  had  not  one  single  being 
within  reach  with  whom  I  could  exchange  a  cordial 
word;  I  endured  hunger,  cold,  sicknesses;  I  suffered 
from  the  hard  labours  and  the  hatred  of  my  com- 
panions the  criminals,  who  bore  me  a  grudge  for 
being  an  officer  and  a  well-born  person.     And  yet 
I  swear  to  you  that  none  of  those  torments  was 
greater  than  that  which  I  felt  when  I  realized  my 
errors,  and  saw  that  in  banishment  I  was  cut  off  from 
my  fellow-creatures  and  unable  to  serve  them  with 
all  my  powers,  desires,  and  capacities.     I  know  that 
I  was  punished  for  my  ideas  and  theories.     But  ideas 
and   even   convictions   alter,    nay,    one's   very   self 
alters;  thus,  it  is  very  grievous  for  me  to  be  now 
expiating  things  that  are  no  more,  that  have,  indeed, 
actually,  in  me,  turned  to  their  very  contraries;  to  be 
suffering  for  my  former  errors,  which  I  now  perceive 
in  all  their  folly — to  feel  that  I  have  the  power  and 
the  talent  to  do  something  which  would  really  atone 
for  the  worthlessness  of  my  earlier  activities,  and  yet 
to   languish  in  impotence.     I  am  now  a  soldier;  I 
am  serving  at  Semipalatinsk,  and  this  summer  was 
promoted  to  the  rank  of  non-commissioned  officer. 
I  know   that   many  people   felt   and   feel  genuine 
sympathy  for  me;  they  have  exerted  themselves  on 
my  behalf,  have  restored  me  to  hope,  and  still  do 
much  to  solace  me.    The  monarch  is  kind  and  com- 


JET.  34]  HIS  DEAREST  WISH  89 

passionate.  Lastly,  I  know  that  it  goes  very  hard 
with  anyone  who  undertakes  to  prove  that  an  unlucky 
man  is  capable  of  doing  something  worth  while,  if 
the  proof  should  fail.  But  I  can  do  something  worth 
while;  I  am  not,  indeed  I  am  not,  without  talent, 
feeling,  and  principle.  I  have  a  great  favour  to  ask 
of  you,  Eduard  Ivanovitch.  Only  one  thing  troubles 
me:  I  have  not  the  least  right  to  worry  you  about 
my  affairs.  But  you  have  a  great  noble  heart.  I 
may  say  this  frankly,  for  you  have  recently  proved 
it  to  all  the  world.  Moreover  /  long  since  had  the 
happiness — longer  since  than  others — of  forming  for 
myself  that  opinion  of  you;  I  had  long  learnt  to 
esteem  you.  A  word  from  you  can  now  accomplish 
much  with  our  gracious  monarch,  who  is  grateful  to 
you,  and  loves  you.  Think  of  the  poor  exile,  and 
help  him.  I  want  to  employ  myself  usefully.  When 
one  has  spiritual  and  mental  powers  which  one  cannot 
turn  to  account,  one  suffers  deeply  from  inactivity. 
For  the  military  career  I  am  not  fitted.  I  earnestly 
desire,  so  far  as  in  me  lies,  to  do  my  utmost  therein; 
but  I  am  sickly,  and  feel  strongly  desirous  of  another 
sphere  of  action,  more  suited  to  my  capabilities.  My 
dearest  wish  would  be  to  be  released  from  military 
service  and  to  enter  the  civil  service  somewhere  in 
European  Russia,  or  even  here;  and  also  to  have 
some  liberty  of  choice  as  to  my  place  of  abode.  But 
neither  form  of  State  service  do  I  regard  as  the  real 
purpose  of  my  life.  Some  years  ago,  the  public  gave 
me  a  very  hearty  and  encouraging  welcome  in  the 
literary  sphere.  I  very  much  desire  permission  to 
publish  my  works.  And  there  are  precedents  for 
this:  many  political  offenders  have  been  graciously 
pardoned  and  given  permission  to  write  and  print. 
I  have  always  considered  the  calling  of  an  author  to 
be  an  honourable  and  useful  one.  I  am  certain  that 


90  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxvi 

in  that  sphere  alone  can  I  do  valuable  work ;  therein 
I  could  attract  attention,  retrieve  my  good  name,  and 
make  my  life  to  some  extent  easier,  for  I  possess 
nothing  but  this  assured,  though  possibly  quite 
modest,  literary  talent.  But  I  should  like  to  say 
quite  frankly :  besides  the  honest  desire  to  change  my 
present  lot  for  one  that  will  better  correspond  with 
my  talents,  another  circumstance,  upon  which  per- 
haps the  happiness  of  my  whole  life  depends1  (it  is 
a  wholly  personal  matter),  has  given  me  courage  to 
turn  to  you  and  recall  myself  to  your  mind.  But 
of  course  I  am  not  asking  for  everything  at  once: 
I  am  asking  only  for  the  possibility  of  giving  up  the 
military,  and  entering  the  civil,  service. 

Read  this  my  prayer,  but  do  not  call  me  poor- 
spirited.  I  have  suffered  much,  and  by  the  very  fact 
that  I  have  borne  so  many  sorrows  have  proved  my 
patience  and  a  certain  degree  of  bravery.  But  now 
I  have  lost  courage — I  realize  that,  myself.  I  used 
always  to  think  it  cowardly  to  trouble  anyone,  who- 
ever it  might  be,  with  my  affairs.  And  now,  I  trouble 
you  \  But  I  implore  you  to  have  mercy  on  me.  Till 
now  I  have  borne  my  misfortune  patiently.  Now  I 
have  broken  down  under  the  weight  of  circumstances 
and  have  resolved  to  make  this  attempt — it  is  nothing 
but  an  attempt.  I  swear  to  you  that  the  thought  of 
writing  to  you,  and  importuning  you,  never  occurred 
to  me  before.  It  would  have  been  painful  and 
difficult  to  me  to  recall  myself  to  you.  In  an  en- 
thusiastic and  wholly  unself-seeking  spirit,  I  have 
lately  followed  your  heroic  career.  If  you  knew  with 
what  delight  I  spoke  of  you  to  others,  you  would 
believe  me.  If  you  knew  with  what  pride  I  declared 
that  I  had  the  honour  of  knowing  you  personally  ! 
When  your  glorious  deeds  were  recounted  here,  I 

1  He  hints  here  at  his  projected  marriage. 


^T.  34]  SEBASTOPOL  91 

was  overwhelmed  with  questions  about  you,  and  it 
was  a  joy  to  me  that  I  was  able  to  tell  of  you.     I  do 
not  fear  to  write  this  to  you.    Your  deeds  are  so 
great  that  even  these  words  can  hardly  appear  as 
flattery.    The  bearer  of  this  letter  will  be  able  to  tell 
you  how  sincere  and  unself-seeking  are  my  feelings 
towards  you.    The  gratitude  of  a  Russian  towards 
him  who,  at  a  time  of  national  disaster,  crowned  the 
terrible  defence  of  Sebastopol  with  eternal,  undying 
glory,  is  comprehensible  enough.     I  repeat  that  it 
had  not  been  my  intention  to  trouble  you  in  any 
way.     But  now,  when  I  have  lost  all  courage,  and 
scarcely  know  to  what  side  I   shall  turn,   I   have 
reminded  myself  how  kind,  cordial,  and  natural  you 
always  were  with  me.     I  thought  of  your  ever  gallant 
and  noble  impulses,  and  began  to  hope.     I  asked 
myself  if  you,  who  have  now  attained  to  so  lofty  and 
glorious  a  position,  would  repulse  me,  who  am  fallen 
so  low  ?     Forgive  my  boldness,   forgive  this  long 
(much  too  long,  I  realize)  letter;  and  if  you  can  do 
anything  for  me,  do  it,  I  implore  you.    And  I  have 
yet  another  great  request;  don't  refuse  it  me.     Recall 
me,  sometimes,  to  your  brother  Adolf  Ivanovitch's 
remembrance,  and  tell  him  that  I  still  love  him  as 
before,  and  often  found  him  among  my  memories 
during  the  four  years  in  prison,  when  in  spirit  I 
would  live  my  whole  past  over  again,  day  by  day 
and  hour  by  hour.    But  he  knows  himself  how  dearly 
I  love  him.     I  do  happen  to  know  that  he  has  lately 
been  ill.     Is  he  well  again  ?     Is  he  alive  ?     Forgive 
me  this  request  also.      But   I   know  not  through 
whom  I  may  attain  my  heart's  desire,  and  so  turn 
to  you.     I  am  aware  that  this  letter  is  a  grave  breach 
of    discipline.      A    common    soldier    writes    to    an 
Adjutant-General !    But  you  are  generous-hearted, 
and  I  confide  in  that. 


92  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [xxvn 

With  deepest  respect  and  the  sincere  thanks  of  a 
Russian, 

I  remain, 
Your  Excellency's  most  devoted  servant, 

FYODOR  DosxoEVSKY.1 


XXVII 
To  the  Baron  A.  E.  Vr angel 

SEMIPALATINSK, 

April  13,  1856. 

[The  letter  begins  with  some  not  very  interesting 
details  of  Dostoevsky's  material  circumstances.] 

You  write  that  we  political  offenders  may  expect 
certain  indulgences,  which,  however,  are  still  kept  a 
secret.  Do  me  the  kindness,  dear  friend,  to  try  to 
discover  something  concerning  myself.  I  must  know 
it.  If  you  learn  anything,  impart  it  to  me  without 
delay.  About  the  transfer  to  the  Caucasus  I  no 
longer  think — nor  to  the  battalion  at  Barnaul.  All 
that  is  unimportant  to  me  now. 

You  write  that  everybody  loves  the  new  Tsar. 
I  myself  idolize  him.  I  must  confess  that  it  is  a 
great  object  to  me  to  be  promoted;  but  I  may  still 
have  to  wait  a  long  time  for  my  promotion  to  com- 
missioned rank;  and  I  should  like  to  have  something 
now,  at  once,  on  the  occasion  of  the  Coronation 
festivities.  The  best  and  wisest  would  be  of  course 
that  I  should  ask  for  permission  to  publish. 

1  Totleben's  minute  ran:  "  His  Majesty  is  pleased  to  order 
me  to  suggest  to  the  Minister  of  War  that  Fyodor  Dostoevsky 
be  promoted  to  the  rank  of  ensign  in  a  regiment  of  the  Second 
Army  Corps.  Should  this  not  be  possible,  he  is  to  be  trans- 
ferred to  the  Civil  Service  with  the  rank  of  an  official  of  the 
fourteenth  class ;  in  both  cases  he  is  to  be  permitted  to  employ 
himself  in  literature,  and  is  to  be  given  the  right  to  print  his 
works  on  condition  of  their  generally  lawful  tendency." 


^T.  34]  THE  NEW  TSAR  93 

I  think  of  sending  you  very  soon,  privately,  a  poem 
I  have  written  about  the  Coronation.  I  might  even 
send  it  "  officially. "  You  will  be  sure  to  meet 
Hasford.1  He  soon  starts,  of  course,  for  the  Corona- 
tion. Could  you  not  persuade  him  to  present  my 
poem  to  the  Tsar  ?  Would  it  not  do  ?  Tell  me  too 
up  to  what  time  I  am  safe  in  writing  to  you,  for  if 
you  leave  Petersburg,  my  letters  might  be  lost,  and 
that  would  be  tiresome.  I  have  already  told  you 
about  my  article  on  Russia.  It  has  turned  into  a 
regular  political  pamphlet.  Yet  I  should  not  like 
to  erase  a  single  word  of  that  article.  They  will 
scarcely  allow  me  to  begin  my  literary  activity  with 
a  pamphlet,  however  patriotic  its  contents  may  be. 
But  the  article  was  good,  and  I  was  satisfied  with 
it.  It  interested  me  extraordinarily.  Still,  I  have 
abandoned  the  task.  For  if  I  can't  get  permission 
to  publish  it,  why  should  I  have  all  my  trouble  for 
nothing  ?  Time  is  too  precious  now  for  me  to 
waste  it  in  writing  for  mere  amusement.  Besides, 
the  political  atmosphere  has  changed.  And  so,  I 
have  begun  a  new  article:  "  Letters  on  Art."  The 
Grand-Duchess  Maria  Nikolayevna  is  President  of 
the  Academy  of  Arts.  I  intend  to  ask  permission 
to  dedicate  this  piece  to  her,  and  let  it  then  appear 
anonymously.  It  is  the  fruit  of  ten  years'  delibera- 
tion. I  thought  it  out  to  the  last  detail  as  long  ago 
as  Omsk.  It  will  have  many  original  and  burning 
passages,  but  I  can't  answer  for  the  execution  of  the 
whole.  Probably  many  will  disagree  with  me  on 
various  points.  But  I  believe  in  my  ideas,  and  that 
suffices  me.  I  should  like  to  ask  Apollon  Maikov  to 
read  it  beforehand.  Certain  chapters  contain  whole 
pages  from  the  pamphlet.  It  deals  directly  with  the 
place  of  Christianity  in  art.  But  where  shall  I  bring 

1  Governor-General  of  Siberia. 


94  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [xxvn 

it  out  ?  If  I  let  it  appear  as  a  separate  publication, 
at  most  a  hundred  people  will  read  it,  for  it  is  no 
novel,  while  in  a  journal  I  might  get  paid  for  it. 
Now,  the  Sovremennik  was  always  hostile  to  me,  and 
so  was  the  Moskvityanin.  In  the  Roussky  Viestnik 
there  has  appeared  the  prelude  to  an  article  by 
Katkov  on  Pushkin,  where  the  ideas  expressed  are  in 
disaccord  with  mine.  So  there  remains  only  the 
Otetschestvennia  Zapiski.  But  I  don't  know  how 
matters  stand  with  that  journal.  Would  you  there- 
fore find  out  from  Maikov  and  your  brother 
whether  there  is  any  chance  of  publishing  and 
being  paid  for  the  article,  and  tell  me  what  they 
say;  just  speak  of  it  casually,  as  it  were.  The 
principal  thing  is  that  the  novel  at  which  I'm  now 
working  affords  me  great  enjoyment.  Only  with 
novels  shall  I  ever  make  a  name  and  attract  public 
attention.  All  the  same,  it  would  be  wiser  to  begin 
with  a  serious  article  (upon  art)  and  try  for  per- 
mission to  publish  such  an  one;  for  nowadays  people 
regard  a  novel  as  an  inferior  sort  of  thing.  So  I 
believe,  at  any  rate.  .  .  . 

[Dostoevsky  reiterates  his  request  that  Vrangel 
will  exert  himself  on  his  behalf.] 

XXVIII 
To  his  Brother  Michael 

SEMIPALATINSK, 

May  31,  1858. 

You  beg  me,  my  friend,  to  send  you  everything 
I  write.  I  can't  remember  (my  memory  is  mostly 
very  bad  now) — I  can't  remember  whether  I  told  you 
that  I  had  approached  Katkov  (Roussky  Viestnik) 
and  offered  him  my  co-operation  on  his  paper;  I 


ST.  36]  REGULAR  WORK  95 

promised  that  this  very  year  I'd  write  a  long  tale  for 
him  if  he  would  at  once  send  me  500  roubles.  Four 
or  five  weeks  ago  I  got  those  500  roubles  and  a  very 
sensible  and  friendly  letter  from  him.  He  writes 
that  he  is  very  glad  of  my  co-operation,  and  at  once 
responds  to  my  request  (about  the  500  roubles) .  He 
begs  me  not  to  hurry  myself  in  any  way,  and  to  write 
only  at  my  leisure.  That's  splendid.  So  now  I  am 
to  write  a  long  story  for  the  Roussky  Viestnik  ;  the 
only  trouble  is  that  I  haven't  arranged  with  Katkov 
about  payment  by  the  sheet — I  wrote  that  I  would 
leave  that  matter  to  him. 

I  want  to  write  something  this  year  also  for  the 
Roussky  Slovo — not  the  novel,  but  a  tale.  I  won't 
write  the  novel  till  I've  got  out  of  Siberia.  I  must 
put  it  off  till  then.  The  motive  of  this  book  is  most 
excellent,  the  principal  figure  is  new  and  has  never 
yet  been  done.  But  as  to-day  in  Russia  such  a  figure 
frequently  emerges  in  actual  life  (so  I  conclude  from 
the  new  movements  and  ideas  of  which  everyone 
seems  full),  I  feel  sure  that  I  shall  succeed  in  enrich- 
ing my  novel,  after  my  return-,  with  fresh  observa- 
tions.1 One  ought  not  to  hurry,  my  friend;  one 
must  try  to  do  nothing  but  what  is  good.  You  write, 
my  dear  fellow,  that  I  am  really  very  vain,  and  want 
to  step  forth  now  with  a  peculiarly  distinguished 
work;  and  that  therefore  I  sit  patiently  on  my  eggs, 
that  the  "  distinguished  work "  may  be  hatched. 
Well,  suppose  it  really  were  the  case:  at  any  rate, 
as  I've  now  dropped  the  idea  of  bringing  out  the 
novel  at  present,  and  am  working  at  two  stories, 
which  will  both  be  only  just  tolerable,  I  don't  think 
there  can  be  much  talk  of  "  hatching."  Where  on 
earth  did  you  pick  up  the  theory  that  a  picture 

1  The  "  figure  "  is  Raskolnikov,  in, "  Crime  and  Punish- 
ment." 


96  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxvm 

should  be  painted  "  straight  off,"  and  so  forth  ?  When 
did  you  come  to  that  conclusion  ?  Believe  me,  in  all 
things  labour  is  necessary — gigantic  labour.  Believe 
me  that  a  graceful,  fleet  poem  of  Pushkin's,  consisting 
of  but  a  few  lines,  is  so  graceful  and  so  fleet  simply 
because  the  poet  has  worked  long  at  it,  and  altered 
much.  That  is  solid  fact.  Gogol  wrote  at  his  "  Dead 
Souls"  for  eight  years.  Everything  that  he  did 
"  straight  off  "  was  crude.  People  say  that  in  Shake- 
speare's MSS.  there  is  not  a  single  erasure.  That's 
why  there  are  so  many  monstrous  errors  of  taste  in 
him.  If  he  had  worked  more,  the  whole  would  have 
come  off  better.  You  evidently  confuse  the  inspira- 
tion, that  is,  the  first  instantaneous  vision,  or  emotion 
in  the  artist's  soul  (which  is  always  present),  with 
the  work.  I,  for  example,  write  every  scene  down  at 
once,  just  as  it  first  comes  to  me,  and  rejoice  in  it; 
then  I  work  at  it  for  months  and  years.  I  let  it 
inspire  me,  in  that  form,  more  than  once  (for  I  love 
it  thus);  here  I  add,  there  I  take  away;  believe  me 
that  the  scene  always  gains  by  it.  One  must  have 
the  inspiration;  without  inspiration  one  can't  of 
course  begin  anything. 

You  write  that  big  fees  are  now  being  paid  in  your 
part  of  the  world.  Thus,  Pissemsky  got  200  or 
250  roubles  a  sheet  for  his  "  Thousand  Souls."  In 
such  circumstances  one  could  really  live,  and  work  at 
ease.  But  do  you  really  think  Pissemsky's  novel 
excellent  ?  It  is  mediocre  work — possibly  a  "  golden 
mean,"  but  nevertheless  mediocre.  Come  !  is  there 
one  fresh  thing  in  it — one  thing  of  his  own,  that  never 
before  was  done  ?  All  has  been  done  before  him,  and 
done  by  the  most  modern  writers  too,  particularly  by 
Gogol.  His  are  but  ancient  words  to  a  new  tune. 
"  Distinguished  work  "  after  foreign  patterns — home 
products  from  sketches  by  Benvenuto  Cellini.  It's 


JET.  36]         HIS  METHOD  OF  WORK  97 

true  I've  read  only  the  two  first  parts  of  the  novel; 
papers  reach  us  very  late  here.  The  end  of  the 
second  part  is  utterly  improbable,  and  entirely  bad. 
Kalinovitch,  who  consciously  betrays,  is  simply  im- 
possible. Kalinovitch,  as  the  author  had  earlier 
depicted  him,  would  have  had  to  offer  a  sacrifice, 
propose  marriage,  intoxicate  himself  with  his  own 
nobility,  and  be  convinced  that  he' was  incapable  of 
any  deception.  Kalinovitch  is  so  vain  that  he 
couldn't  possibly  regard  himself  as  a  scoundrel.  Of 
course  he  would  take  his  pleasure  all  the  same,  spend 
a  night  with  Nastenyka  and  then  betray  her;  but 
only  afterwards,  under"  the  pressure  of  actualities; 
and  he  would  assuredly  solace  himself  even  then,  and 
aver  that  he  had  acted  nobly  in  this  case  also.  But  a 
Kalinovitch  who  consciously  betrays,  is  repulsive  and 
impossible ;  that  is  to  say,  such  a  person  is  possible, 
but  he  is  not  Kalinovitch.  Enough  of  this  nonsense. 
I  am  weary  of  waiting  for  my  leave. 

[Here  follow  plans  for  what  Dostoevsky  will  do 
when  he  gets  his  leave.] 

XXIX 

To  his  Brother  Michael 

SEMIPALATINSK, 

May  g,  1859. 

[At  first  he  talks  of  his  leave,  which  had  been 
granted  so  long  ago  as  March  18,  but  of  which 
nothing  was  known  in  Semipalatinsk  till  May;  and 
of  business  matters.] 

You  always  write  me  such  tidings  as,  for  example, 
that  Gontscharov  has  got  7,000  roubles  for  his  novel, 
and  that  Katkov  (from  whom  I  now  demand  100 

7 


98  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxix 

roubles  a  sheet)  has  offered  Turgenev  4,000  roubles 
for  his  "  House  of  Gentlefolk  " — which  means  400 
roubles  a  sheet.  (I  have  read  Turgenev's  novel  at  last. 
It  is  extraordinarily  good.)  My  friend  !  I  know  very 
well  that  I  don't  write  as  well  as  Turgenev;  still 
the  difference  is  really  not  so  great,  and  I  hope 
in  time  to  write  quite  as  well  as  he  does.  Why 
do  I,  then,  in  my  need,  allow  myself  to  get  only 
100  roubles  a  sheet,  while  Turgenev,  who  has  2,000 
serfs,  gets  400  roubles  ?  I  am  poor,  and  so  must  write 
in  greater  haste  and  for  money;  consequently  I  have 
to  spoil  everything  I  do. 

[Here  follow  considerations  upon  the  terms  which 
Dostoevsky  thinks  of  offering  to  Kachelyov,  editor 
of  the  Roussky  Slovo.} 

I  am  now  finishing  a  story  for  Katkov  j1  it  has  got 
quite  long — fourteen  or  fifteen  sheets.  I  have  already 
delivered  three-quarters  of  it ;  the  rest  I  shall  send  in 
the  beginning  of  June.  Now  listen,  Micha  !  This 
story  has  of  course  great  faults  and  is,  above  all, 
extravagantly  long;  but  I  am  perfectly  certain  that 
it  has  also  the  greatest  merits  and  is  my  best  work. 
I  have  been  two  years  writing  it  (with  an  interruption 
in  the  middle,  when  I  wrote  "  Uncle's  Dream "). 
The  beginning  and  the  middle  are  decently  worked 
out,  but  the  end  was  written  in  great  haste.  Still  I 
have  put  my  whole  soul,  my  flesh  and  blood,  into  it. 
I  will  not  say  that  I  have  therein  expressed  my  whole 
self:  that  would  be  nonsense.  I  have  much  more  to 
say.  And  there  is,  in  this  story,  far  too  little  of  the 
human,  that  is,  the  passionate,  element  (as  exempli- 
fied, for  instance,  in  "  A  House  of  Gentlefolk  ") ;  but 
on  the  other  hand  it  shows  forth  two  colossal  types, 
which  I  have  been  working  at  and  polishing  for  five 
1  "  Stepanchikovo  Village." 


D08TOKVSKY  AT  SKMIPALATINSK 
(1858),  IN  ENSIGN'S  UNIFORM. 


ST.  38]  HIS  NEW  NOVEL  99 

whole  years;  they  are  (as  I  believe)  faultlessly  drawn; 
wholly  Russian  types,  and  such  as  have  been  hitherto 
insufficiently  studied  in  Russian  literature.  I  know 
not  whether  Katkov  will  be  able  to  appreciate  the 
book,  but  if  it  is  coldly  received  by  the  public  I  shall 
really  despair.  On  this  novel  I  build  my  highest 
hopes,  and,  above  all,  that  of  the  certainty  of  my 
literary  vocation. 

[Henceforth  the  topic  again  is  money.]  ' 

XXX 

To  Frau  Stackenschneider 

[PETERSBURG], 

May  3,  1860. 

HONOURED  AND  DEAR  FRAU  ST. 

I  have  now  been  back  in  Petersburg  three 
months,  and  have  taken  up  my  work  again.  The 
whole  visit  to  Moscow  seems  like  a  dream  to  me 
now;  here  I  am  again  amid  the  damp,  the  dirt,  the 
ice  from  Ladoga  Lake,1  the  tedium,  and  so  on. 
Yes — back  again,  and  I  feel  as  if  I  were  in  a  fever. 
That's  because  of  my  novel.2  I  want  it  to  come  off. 
I  feel  that  there  is  poetry  in  it,  and  I  know  that  on  it 
depends  my  whole  literary  career.  I  shall  have  to 
work  night  and  day  for  the  next  three  months.  But 
what  a  reward  awaits  me,  when  I've  finished  !  Rest, 
a  clear  outlook  on  my  surroundings,  and  the  know- 
ledge that  I  have  done  and  attained  what  I  wished. 
Perhaps  I  shall  give  myself,  as  a  treat,  a  few  months' 
travel;  but  first  of  all  I  shall  in  any  event  come  again 
to  Moscow. 

i  In  the  early  part  of  the  year  the  ice  from  Lake  Ladoga 
comes  floating  down  the  Neva. 
3  "  Injury  and  Insult." 


ioo  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxx 

.  .  .  Ambition  is  a  good  thing,  but  I  think  that 
one  may  take  it  as  one's  aim  only  in  things  which 
one  has  set  one's-self  to  achieve,  has  made  the  reason 
for  one's  existence.  In  anything  else  it's  nonsense. 
The  only  essential  is  to  live  with  ease;  and  moreover 
one  must  sympathize  with  one's  fellow-creatures,  and 
strive  to  win  their  sympathy  in  return.  And  if, 
indeed,  one  had  no  other  determined  aim,  this  would 
by  itself  more  than  suffice. 

But  I'm  beginning  to  philosophize  again.  I  have 
heard  little  or  no  news.  Pissemsky  is  ill,  suffering 
from  rheumatism.  I've  been  to  see  Apollon  Maikov. 
He  told  me  that  Pissemsky  rages,  sulks,  takes  it  very 
badly;  that's  no  wonder;  such  sufferings  are  great 
torment.  By-the-bye,  didn't  you  know  one  Snitkin  ? 
He  published  some  comic  verses  under  the  pseudonym 
of  Ammos  Schichkin.  Only  think:  he  fell  ill  sud- 
denly, and  died  within  six  days.  The  Literary  Relief 
Fund  has  undertaken  to  look  after  his  family.  It  is 
very  sad.  But  perhaps  you  didn't  know  anything  of 
him.  I  had  a  talk  with  Krestovsky1  lately.  I  like 
him  very  much.  He  wrote  a  poem  the  other  day, 
and  read  it  aloud  to  us  with  much  pride.  We  told 
him  with  one  voice  that  the  poem  was  atrocious;  it 
is  our  custom  always  to  speak  the  truth.  And  what 
do  you  think  ?  He  wasn't  in  the  least  offended. 
He  is  such  a  dear,  noble  youth  !  I  like  him  better 
and  better,  and  on  some  drinking-bout  or  other  I 
mean  to  drink  brotherhood  with  him.2  One  often 
has  such  odd  impressions  !  I  always  have  this  one — 
that  Krestovsky  must  soon  die.  But  whence  it 
comes,  I  can't  possibly  say. 

We   are   thinking   of  starting   a  serious  literary 

1  Vsevolod  Krestovsky,  a  quite  unimportant  but  highly 
popular  novelist.     He  died  about  1895. 
a  This  is  done  with  arms  intertwined.     (Translator's  note.) 


JST.  40]  "  VREMYA "  101 

enterprise.  We  are  all  very  busy  about  it.1  Per- 
haps it  will  come  off.  All  these  plans  are  but  the 
first  step,  but  at  any  rate  they  indicate  vitality.  I 
know  very  well  what  "  the  first  step  "  means,  and 
I  love  it.  It  is  better  than  any  leap. 

I  have  a  frightful  character,  but  not  always — only 
at  times.    That's  my  solace. 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


XXXI 

To  Mme.  V.  D.  Constantine2 

PARIS, 
September  i,  1862. 

MY     DEAR     AND     MUCH  -  HONOURED     VARVARA 

DMITRYEVNA  ! 

You  have  perhaps  learnt  from  my  letter  to 
Pasha3  that  I  arrived  happy  and  well  in  Paris,  and 
have  settled  down  here,  though  I  hardly  think  I  shall 
stay  long.  I  don't  like  Paris,  though  it's  frightfully 
grand.  There's  a  lot  to  see  here,  but  when  one 
undertakes  the  seeing,  terrible  boredom  ensues.  It 
would  have  been  very  different  if  I  had  come  here  as 
a  student,  to  learn  something:  very  different,  for  I 
should  have  had  plenty  to  do,  and  should  have  had 
to  see  and  hear  a  great  deal ;  while  for  a  tourist,  who 
is  merely  observing  customs,  the  French  are  disgust- 
ing, and  the  town  as  such  is  wholly  unknown  to  me. 
The  best  things  here  are  the  wine  and  the  fruit:  the 
only  things  that  in  the  long  run  don't  pall  on  one. 
Of  my  private  affairs  I  won't  write  you  anything. 
"  Letters  are  nonsense;  only  apothecaries  write 

1  The  reference  is  to  the  journal  Vremya  (The  Times). 

2  Dostoevsky's     sister-in-law ;     sister    of     Mme.     Maria 
Dmitryevna. 

3  Pasha  [Paul]  Issayev,  Dostoevsky's  stepson. 


102  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [xxxi 

letters."1  I  will  write  only  of  a  certain  business 
matter.  I  have  in  fact  a  request  to  make  of  you, 
my  dear  Varvara  Dmitryevna.  You  must  know 
that  on  the  way  I  stopped  four  days  at  Wiesbaden, 
and  of  course  played  roulette.  And  what  do  you 
think  ?  I  did  not  lose,  but  won;  not,  certainly,  as 
much  as  I  could  have  wished,  no  hundred  thousand, 
but  still  a  nice  little  sum. 

N.B. :  Tell  this  to  no  one,  dear  Varvara  Dmitry- 
evna. You  can't,  it  is  true,  tell  it  to  anyone,  for 
you  don't  meet  anyone;  but  I  really  mean  Pasha; 
he  is  still  a  little  goose,  and  would  perhaps  imagine 
that  one  can  make  a  living  out  of  play.  He  took 
it  into  his  head  lately  to  be  a  shop-boy,  and  earn 
money  that  way:  "  and  so  I  needn't  learn  anything," 
he  informed  me.  "  And  so  "  he  needn't  know  that 
Papa  frequents  gaming-halls.  Therefore  tell  him 
not  a  word  about  it.  During  those  four  days  I 
watched  the  gamblers  closely.  Several  hundred 
persons  took  part  in  the  play,  and  only  two  knew 
really  how  to  gamble — my  word  of  honour  !  They 
were  a  Frenchwoman  and  an  English  Lord;  they 
knew  how,  and  lost  nothing:  indeed  they  nearly 
broke  the  bank.  But  please  don't  think  that,  in 
my  joy  at  having  won  and  not  lost,  I  am  swagger- 
ing, and  imagining  that  7  know  the  secret  of  play. 
I  do  know  the  secret,  and  it  is  extremely  stupid 
and  simple:  it  consists  in  controlling  one's-self  the 
whole  time,  and  never  getting  excited  at  any  phase 
of  the  game.  That  is  all;  in  that  way  one  can't 
possibly  lose  and  must  win.  The  whole  point  is 
that  the  man  who  knows  this  secret  should  have  the 
power  and  capacity  to  turn  it  rightly  to  account. 
One  may  be  ever  so  intelligent,  one  may  have  a 
character  of  pure  iron,  and  yet  one  may  come  to 

1  Quotation  from  Gogol's  "  Memoirs  of  a  Madman." 


JET.  41]          THE  SECRET  OF  PLAY  103 

grief.  Even  that  philosopher  Strachov  would  lose. 
Blessed  therefore  are  they  who  do  not  gamble,  who 
detest  roulette  and  look  upon  it  as  the  height  of 
folly. 

But  to  the  point.  I  have,  dear  Varvara  Dmitry- 
evna,  won  5,000  francs;  or  rather,  I  had  won,  at  first, 
10,400  francs,  taken  the  money  home,  put  it  in  my 
wallet,  and  resolved 'to  depart  next  day  and  not  go 
into  the  gaming-rooms  again.  But  I  did  not  hold 
out,  and  played  away  half  the  money  again.  So  only 
5,000  francs  are  left.  A  part  of  these  winnings  I  have 
reserved  to  myself  in  case  of  accidents,  and  the  rest  I 
am  sending  to  Petersburg:  half  to  my  brother,  that 
he  may  put  it  by  till  my  return,  and  the  other  half  to 
you,  to  give  or  send  to  Maria  Dmitryevna. 

[He  then  discusses  how  the  money  may  best  be 
sent  from  abroad,  and  changed  in  Russia.] 


XXXII 

To  N.  N.  Strachov1 

ROME, 
September  18  [30],  1863. 

[Dostoevsky  begins  by  begging  Strachov  to  settle 
his  accounts  at  the  office  of  the  Booklover's  Library.] 

And  Boborykin2  may  as  well  know  what  is  known 
already  to  the  Sovremennik  and  the  Otetschestvennia 
Zapiski :  that  I  never  in  my  life  have  sold  a  work 
(with  the  exception  of  "  Poor  Folk  ")  for  which  I 

1  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov,  critic  and  philosopher 
(1828-96),  was  a  close  friend  of  Dostoevsky  and  Grigorovitch. 
He  headed  an  embittered  political  campaign  against  Nihilism 
and  the  material  tendencies  of  the  'sixties. 

3  Pyotr  Boborykin,  a  still  living  popular  novelist.  At  that 
time  he  was  editor  of  the  Booklover's  Library. 


io4  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [xxxn 

have  not  been  paid  in  advance.  I  am  a  proletarian 
among  the  authors,  and  if  anyone  wants  my  work,  he 
must  pay  me  for  it  beforehand.  I  myself  condemn 
this  system.  But  I  have  established  it  once  for  all, 
and  will  never  abandon  it.  So  now  I'll  go  on: — 

At  the  moment  I  have  nothing  ready.     But  I  have 
(what  seems  to  me)  a  very  good  idea  for  a  story.1 
The  greater  part  of  it  is  already  jotted  down  on 
scraps   of  paper.      I   have  even   begun  the  actual 
execution,  but  in  the  first  place  it's  too^hot  here,  and 
in  the  second  I  don't  want  to  spend  more  than  a  week 
in  Rome;  how  could  anyone,  staying  only  eight  days 
in  a  city  like  Rome,  get  any  writing  done  ?     All  the 
going-about  tires  me  extraordinarily.     My  story  will 
depict  a  typical  figure,  a  Russian  living  abroad.     You 
know  of  course  that  last  summer  there  was  a  great 
deal   of  talk  in   our  journals  about  the  absentee 
Russian.     This  will  all  be  reflected  in  my  story. 
And  the  present  state  of  our  interior  organizations 
will  also  (as  well  as  I  can  do  it,  of  course)  be  woven 
into  the  narrative.     I  depict  a  man  of  most  simple 
nature,  a  man  who,  while  developed  in  many  respects, 
is  yet  in  every  way  incomplete,  who  has  lost  all 
faith,  yet  at  the  same  time  does  not  dare  to  be  a 
sceptic,  who  revolts  against  all  authority  and  yet  at 
the  same  time  fears  it.     He  comforts  himself  with 
the  thought  that  in  Russia  there  is  nothing  that  he 
can   do,    and  therefore   condemns  in   the   harshest 
manner    those    who   would   summon   the    absentee 
Russians  back  to  Russia.     I  can't  tell  it  all  here. 
The  character  is  very  vivid  (I  can  literally  see  it  stand- 
ing before  me),  and  when  once  the  story  is  finished  it 
will  be  worth  reading.     The  real  idea,  though,  lies  in 
his  having  wasted  all  his  substance,  energies,  and 
talents  on  roulette.   He  is  a  gambler,  but  no  common 

i  "The  Gambler." 


2ET.  4i J  "  THE  GAMBLER  "  105 

gambler,  just  as  the  "  miserly  knight "  of  Pushkin  is 
no  common  miser.  (I  don't  in  the  least  mean  to 
compare  myself  with  Pushkin.  I  only  use  the  com- 
parison for  lucidity's  sake.)  He  is  in  his  way  a  poet, 
yet  he  is  ashamed  of  such  poetry,  for  he  feels  pro- 
foundly its  vulgarity,  even  though  the  longing  for 
touch-and-go  ennobles  him  in  his  own  eyes.  The 
whole  story  is  concerned  with  his  playing  roulette  for 
full  three  years. 

If  my  "  Dead  House  " — as  a  picture  of  the  prison, 
which  no  one  before  me  had  thus  psychologically 
displayed — greatly  interested  the  public,  the  new 
story,  as  a  psychological  and  faithful  portrait  of  the 
roulette-player,  will  interest  them  still  more.  Apart 
from  the  fact  that  that  kind  of  work  is  read  among 
us  with  the  deepest  interest,  one  must  also  consider 
that  the  gambling  in  a  foreign  watering-place  is 
notorious,  and  the  chief  topic  of  the  absentee  Russian; 
this  has,  in  addition  to  the  rest,  a  certain  (though 
of  course  inferior)  importance. 

In  short,  I  dare  to  hope  that  I  shall  succeed  in 
depicting  all  these  most  absorbing  circumstances  with 
feeling,  understanding,  and  not  too  long-windedly. 
The  story  may  be  very  good  indeed.  My  "  Dead 
House "  was  really  most  interesting.  And  here 
again  shall  be  the  picture  of  a  hell,  of  the  same  kind 
as  that  "  Turkish  bath  in  the  prison."  I  want  to 
do  this  one  too,  and  I  shall  take  enormous  pains 
about  it. 

[Henceforth  money  matters  prevail.] 


io6  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxm 

XXXIII 
To  A.  P.  Milyukov1 

[Moscow], 

June,  1866. 

MY   DEAR  AND   HONOURED   FRIEND  ALEXANDER 

PETROVITCH  ! 

Katkov  is  taking  the  summer  air  at  Petrovsky- 
Park;  Lyubimov  (the  editor  of  the  Roussky  Viestnik) 
also  is  taking  the  air.  At  the  office  one  only  now 
and  then  conies  across  the  moping  secretary,  from 
whom  one  can  extract  nothing.  I  did,  however, 
succeed  in  the  early  days  in  catching  Lyubimov.  He 
has  had  three  chapters  of  my  novel  already  set  up.2 
I  proposed  to  him  that  I  should  write  the  fourth 
chapter  in  less  than  no  time;  the  four  would  make 
exactly  half  the  conclusion  of  the  second  part  (four 
sheets);  in  the  next  number  they  could  print  four 
more  chapters — that  is,  to  the  end  of  the  second  part. 
Lyubimov,  however,  almost  interrupted  me  to  say: 
"  I  was  waiting  to  tell  you  that  now,  in  June  and 
July,  we  can  print  the  novel  in  smaller  portions — in 
fact,  we  must;  one  number,  even,  seeing  it's  the 
summer  season,  might  have  no  portion  at  all.  We 
should  prefer  to  arrange  that  the  whole  second  half 
of  the  novel  appears  in  the  autumn,  and  the  end  in 
the  December  number,  for  the  effect  of  the  novel 
ought  to  help  towards  the  new  year's  subscriptions." 
It  was  therefore  decided  to  pause  for  yet  another 
month.  The  four  chapters  (four  sheets)  will  there- 
fore not  appear  till  the  July  number,  and  are  already 
in  proof. 

Later,  however,  it  appeared  that  Lyubimov  had 

1  See  the  Reminiscences  of  Milyukov,  in  the  Appendix. 
a  "  Crime  and  Punishment." 


JLT,  44]    "  CRIME  AND  PUNISHMENT  "         107 

yet  another  infamous  back-thought:  namely,  that  he 
won't  print  one  of  the  chapters  at  all,  and  Katkov  has 
approved  of  this  his  decision.1  I  was  infuriated  with 
them  both.  But  they  insist  on  their  scheme  !  About 
the  chapter  in  question,  I  myself  can't  say  at  all:  I 
wrote  it  in  a  positive  inspiration,  but  it  may  be  that 
it's  really  bad;  however,  with  them  it's  not  a  question 
of  the  literary  value,  but  of  nervousness  about  the 
morality  of  it.  In  this  respect  I  am  in  the  right; 
the  chapter  contains  nothing  immoral,  quite  the  con- 
trary indeed;  but  they're  of  another  opinion,  and 
moreover  see  traces  of  Nihilism  therein.  Lyubimov 
told  me  finally  that  I  must  write  the  chapter  over 
again.  I  undertook  to  do  so,  and  the  re- writing  of 
this  great  chapter  gave  me  at  least  as  much  labour 
and  trouble  as  three  new  ones.  Nevertheless  I  have 
re-written,  and  delivered  it.  Unfortunately  I  haven't 
seen  Lyubimov  since,  so  I  don't  know  whether  they're 
satisfied  with  the  new  version,  or  will  write  it  all 
over  again  themselves.  This  actually  happened  to 
another  chapter  (of  these  four) :  Lyubimov  told  me 
that  he  had  struck  out  a  great  deal  of  it.  (That  I 
didn't  particularly  mind,  for  they  deleted  a  quite 
unimportant  passage.) 

I  don't  know  how  it  will  turn  out,  but  the  differ- 
ences of  opinion  which  this  novel  has  brought  to  light 
between  me  and  the  office,  begin  to  trouble  me. 

The  novel  for  Stellovsky2  I  haven't  yet  begun, 
but  certainly  shall  begin.  I  have  a  plan  for  a  most 
decent  little  novel;  there  will  even  be  shadows  of 
actual  characters  in  it.  The  thought  of  Stellovsky 

1  It  is  the  ninth  chapter  of  the  second  part  of  "  Crime  and 
Punishment";  the  scene  where  Sonia  and  Raskolnikov  to- 
gether read  the  Gospel  had  given  offence.  Dostoevsky  was 
obliged  to  shorten  the  chapter. 

a  Publisher  of  the  first  edition  of  the  "  Collected  Works  " 
(1865-66). 


io8  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxiv 

torments  and  disturbs  me;  it  pursues  me  even  in 
dreams. 

I'm  telling  you  all  this  very  cursorily  and  in  great 
haste,  though  my  letter's  long  enough.  Answer  me, 
for  God's  sake.  Write  to  me  about  yourself,  your 
life,  your  views,  and  your  health.  Write  to  me  also 
of  our  people;  have  you  perhaps  heard  some  news  ? 
I  must  be  silent  about  many  things.  My  best 
regards  to  your  Ludmilla  Alexandrovna;  remember 
me  to  all  your  children,  and  greet  all  common 
acquaintances  from  me.  Till  next  time,  my  kind 
friend,  I  embrace  you  and  remain  your 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 

N.B. — I  have  not  had  any  attacks  up  to  the 
present.  I  drink  schnaps.  How  does  it  stand  with 
the  cholera  ? 

XXXIV 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

GENEVA, 

August  16  [28],  1867. 

So  long  have  I  kept  silence,  and  not  answered  your 
welcome  letter,  my  dear  and  unforgettable  friend 
Apollon  Nikolayevitch.  I  call  you  unforgettable 
friend,  and  feel  deep  in  my  heart  that  that  description 
is  just;  we  are  both  such  old  and  accustomed  friends 
that  life,  which  sometimes  parted  us  and  even  separated 
us,  not  only  has  not  succeeded  in  really  "  separating  " 
us,  but  has  actually  drawn  us  closer  together.  You 
write  that  you  feel  my  absence  to  a  certain  extent; 
much  more  do  I  feel  yours.  Quite  apart  from  the 
fact  that  every  day  shows  me  more  clearly  the  like- 
ness and  sympathy  between  our  thoughts  and  feelings, 
I  beg  you  to  observe  as  well  that  I,  since  I  lost  you, 


/EX.  45]  MAIKOV  109 

have  come  over  into  a  strange  land,  where  not  only 
are  there  no  Russian  faces,  Russian  books,  Russian 
thoughts  and  concerns,  but  no  friendly  faces  of  any 
sort.  I  truly  cannot  understand  how  any  Russian 
living  abroad,  if  he  be  a  man  of  heart  and  intelligence, 
can  fail  to  notice  this,  and  be  made  miserable  by  it. 
Perhaps  all  these  faces  are  friendly  to  one  another; 
I  can  only  say  that  I  feel  they're  not  friendly  to  us. 
It  really  is  so  !  How  can  people  endure  this  living 
abroad  ?  By  God,  without  home,  life  is  torture  f 
I  can  understand  going  abroad  for  six  months,  or 
even  a  year.  But  to  travel,  as  I  do,  without  knowing 
or  even  guessing  when  one  will  get  home  again,  is 
very  bad  and  grievous.  The  mere  thought  of  it  is 
hard  to  bear.  I  need  Russia  for  my  work,  for  my  life 
(I  speak  of  no  life  but  that).  I  am  like  a  fish  out  of 
water;  I  lose  all  my  energies,  all  my  faculties.  .  .  . 
You  know  in  what  circumstances  I  left  home,  and 
for  what  reason.  There  are  two  principal  reasons: 
in  the  first  place,  I  had  to  save  my  health  and  even 
my  life.  The  attacks  were  recurring  every  eight  days, 
and  it  was  unbearable  to  feel  and  recognize  the  destruc- 
tion of  my  nerves  and  brain.  I  really  was  beginning 
to  lose  my  senses — that  is  a  fact.  I  felt  it;  the  ruin 
of  my  nerves  often  drove  me  to  the  very  edge  of 
things.  The  second  reason  is  that  my  creditors 
would  wait  no  longer,  and  on  the  day  of  my  departure 
several  summonses  were  out  against  me.  .  .  . 

[He  pursues  the  topic  of  his  debts.] 

.  .  .  The  burden  was  unbearable.  I  departed,  with 
death  in  my  heart.  I  had  no  faith  in  foreign  lands — 
rather,  I  believed  they  might  have  a  bad  moral  effect 
upon  me.  I  was  wholly  isolated,  without  resources, 
and  with  a  young  creature1  by  my  side,  who  was 
second  wife,  Anna  Grigorovna,  born  Snitkin. 


no  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxiv 

naively  delighted  at  sharing  my  wandering  life;  but 
I  saw  that  that  na'ive  delight  arose  partly  from  inex- 
perience and  youthful  ardour,  and  this  depressed  and 
tormented  me.  I  was  afraid  that  Anna  Grigorovna 
would  find  life  with  me  a  tedious  thing.  For  up  to 
the  present  we  have  been  literally  alone.  Of  myself 
I  could  hope  little:  my  nature  is  morbid,  and  I 
anticipated  that  she  would  have  much  to  bear  from 
me.  (N.B. — Anna  Grigorovna  indeed  proved  herself 
to  be  of  a  nature  much  stronger  and  deeper  than  I 
had  expected ;  in  many  ways  she  has  been  my  guardian 
angel;  at  the  same  time,  there  is  much  that  is  child- 
ish and  immature  in  her,  and  very  beautiful  and 
most  necessary  and  natural  it  is,  only  I  can  hardly 
respond  to  it.  All  this  I  saw  vaguely  before  our 
departure;  and  although,  as  I  said,  Anna  Grigorovna 
is  finer  and  stronger  than  I  had  guessed,  I  am  not 
even  now  free  from  all  uneasiness.)  Finally,  our 
insufficient  means  caused  me  much  anxiety;  we  had 
only  a  very  little  money,  and  owed  Katkov  an 
advance  of  three  thousand  (I)  roubles.  To  be  sure, 
I  intended  to  begin  work  immediately  after  our 
departure.  But  what  actually  came  to  pass  ?  Up 
to  the  present  I  have  accomplished  nothing,  or 
almost  nothing,  and  want  now  to  set  seriously  to 
work  at  last.  I  must  confess  that  I  don't  feel 
sure  I've  really  accomplished  nothing,  for  I  have 
lived  through  so  much,  and  framed  so  much  in 
my  mind;  still,  in  black  and  white  I  have  set 
down  very  little  as  yet ;  and  only  what  stands 
written  in  black  and  white  is  valid  and  money- 
making. 

We  left  tedious  Berlin  as  soon  as  we  could  (I  could 
only  stop  one  day  there,  for  the  tiresome  Germans 
made  me  nervous  and  irascible,  and  I  had  to  take 
refuge  in  the  Russian  baths),  and  went  to  Dresden. 


JJT.  45]  RUSSIAN  AFFAIRS  in 

In  Dresden  we  took  lodgings  and  installed  ourselves 
for  a  time. 

The  effect  was  very  singular;  instantly  this  question 
presented  itself  to  me:  Why  am  I  in  Dresden,  just 
Dresden,  and  not  in  any  other  town;  and  why  on 
earth  had  I  to  leave  one  place  and  go  to  another  ? 
The  answer  was  most  clear  (my  health,  the  debts, 
etc.).  But  worse  is  the  clear  perception  that  now 
I  don't  in  the  least  care  where  I  may  have  to  dwell. 
In  Dresden  or  another  town — everywhere,  in  foreign 
lands,  I  feel  like  a  slice  cut  from  the  loaf.  I  had 
meant  to  set  to  work  the  very  first  day,  but  I  felt 
that  I  could  not  possibly  work  there,  that  all  my 
impressions  were  topsy-turvy.  What  did  I  do  ?  I 
vegetated.  I  read,  wrote  a  few  lines  now  and  then, 
nearly  died  of  home-sickness,  and,  later,  of  heat. 
The  days  went  monotonously  by.  .  .  . 

I  can't  possibly  tell  you  all  my  thoughts.  I  collected 
many  impressions.  I  read  Russian  newspapers  and 
solaced  myself  thus.  I  felt  eventually  that  so  many 
new  ideas  had  been  garnered  up  that  I  could  write 
a  long  article  on  Russia's  relations  to  Western  Europe, 
and  on  the  upper  classes  of  Russian  society.  I  should, 
indeed,  have  had  plenty  to  say  !  The  Germans  got 
on  my  nerves;  and  our  Russian  way  of  living,  the 
life  of  the  upper  classes,  the  faith  in  Europe  and 
civilization  in  which  those  upper  classes  are  steeped — 
all  that  got  on  my  nerves  also.  The  incident  in  Paris 
upset  me  frightfully.1  Impressive,  weren't  they  ?  the 
Paris  lawyers  who  cried  "  Vive  la  Pologne  !"  Faugh, 
how  nauseous,  how  stupid,  how  insipid  !  I  felt  more 
than  ever  confirmed  in  my  view  that  it  is  rather 
advantageous  for  us  that  Europe  does  not  know  us 
in  the  least,  and  has  such  a  disgusting  idea  of  us. 

1  Beresovsky'i  attempt  upon  the  life  of  Alexander  II. 


H2  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxiv 

And  then  the  details  of  the  proceedings  against 
Beresovsky  !  How  ugly,  how  empty;  I  can't  imagine 
how  they  can  ever  recover  from  such  twaddle,  and 
get  on  to  the  next  point ! 

Russia,  seen  from  here,  looks  to  a  Russian  much 
more  plastic.  On  the  one  hand  is  the  rare  fact  that 
-  our  people  have  shown  such  unexpected  independence 
and  maturity  in  the  initiation  of  reforms  (as,  for 
example,  the  judicial  ones) ;  on  the  other  there  is  that 
news  of  the  flogging  of  a  merchant  of  the  first  guild 
in  the  Orenburg  Government  by  the  Chief  of  Police. 
One  thing  is  clear:  that  the  Russian  people,  thanks 
to  its  benefactor  and  his  reforms,  is  at  last  in  such 
a  situation  that  it  must  of  necessity  accustom  itself 
to  affairs  and  self-criticism;  and  that's  the  principal 
thing.  By  God,  our  age,  in  regard  to  reforms  and 
changes,  is  almost  as  important  as  that  of  Peter  the 
Great.  How  goes  it  with  the  railways  ?  We  must 
get  down  as  quickly  as  possible  to  the  south;1  this  is 
tremendously  important.  Before  then,  we  must  have 
equitable  tribunals  everywhere;  how  great  will  be  the 
transformation  !  (I,  over  here,  keep  thinking  of  all 
these  things,  and  my  heart  beats  fast).  I  see  hardly 
anyone  here;  it  is  quite  impossible,  though,  not  to 
come  across  somebody  or  other.  In  Germany  I  met 
a  Russian  who  always  lives  abroad;  he  goes  to  Russia 
for  about  three  weeks  each  year,  and  then  returns  to 
Germany,  where  he  has  a  wife  and  family;  they  have 
all  become  German  through  and  through.  Among 
other  things  I  asked  him:  "Why  actually  did  you 
leave  home?"  He  answered  me  hotly  and  curtly: 
"  Because  here  is  civilization,  and  with  us  is  bar- 
barism." This  gentleman  belongs  to  the  Young 
Progressives,  but  seems  to  keep  himself  aloof  from 

1  Here  Dostoevsky  refers  to  Russia's  efforts  to  get  down  to 
the  Bosphorus  and  Constantinople. 


£T.  45]  GAMBLING  113 

them  all  to  some  extent.    What  snarling,  peevish 
curs  all  these  absentees  do  become  ! 

At  last,  Anna  Grigorovna  and  I  could  no  longer 
bear  our  home-sickness  in  Dresden.  .  .  .  We  decided 
to  spend  the  winter  somewhere  in  Switzerland  or 
Italy.  But  we  had  no  money  at  all.  What  we  had 
brought  with  us  was  all  spent.  I  wrote  to  Katkov, 
described  my  situation,  and  begged  him  for  a  further 
advance  of  500  roubles.  And  what  do  you  think:  he 
sent  me  the  money  !  What  an  excellent  fellow  he 
is  !  So  we  came  to  Switzerland.  Now  I  am  going 
to  confess  to  you  my  baseness  and  my  shame. 

My  dear  Apollon  Nikolayevitch,  I  feel  that  I  may 
regard  you  as  my  judge.  You  have  heart  and  feeling, 
as  I  have  always,  and  of  late  freshly,  been  convinced; 
and  therefore  I  have  ever  prized  your  judgment 
highly.  I  don't  suffer  in  confessing  my  sins  to  you. 
What  I  write  you  to-day  is  meant  for  you  alone. 
Deliver  me  not  to  the  judgment  of  the  mob. 

When  I  was  travelling  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Baden-Baden,  I  decided  to  turn  aside  and  visit  the 
place.  I  was  tortured  by  a  seductive  thought: 
10  louis-d'or  to  risk,  and  perhaps  2,000  francs  to  win; 
such  a  sum  would  suffice  me  for  four  months,  even 
with  the  expenses  that  I  have  in  Petersburg.  The 
vile  part  of  it  is  that  in  earlier  years  I  had  occasionally 
won.  But  the  worst  is  that  I  have  an  evil  and  exag- 
geratedly passionate  nature.  In  all  things  I  go  to 
the  uttermost  extreme;  my  life  long  I  have  never 
been  acquainted  with  moderation. 

The  devil  played  his  games  with  me  at  the  begin- 
ning; in  three  days  I  won,  unusually  easily,  4,000 
francs.  Now  I'll  show  you  how  I  worked  matters 
out:  on  the  one  hand,  this  easy  gain — from  100 

francs  I  had  in  three  days  made  4,000  ;  on 

the  other,  my  debts,  my  summonses,  my  heartfelt 

8 


H4  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxiv 

anxiety  and  the  impossibility  of  getting  back  to 
Russia;  in  the  third  place,  and  this  is  the  principal 
point,  the  play  itself.  If  you  only  knew  how  it  draws 
one  on  !  No — I  swear  to  you  it  was  not  the  love  of 
winning  alone,  though  I  actually  needed  the  money 
for  the  money's  sake.  Anna  Grigorovna  implored  me 
to  be  contented  with  the  4,000  francs,  and  depart  at 
once.  But  that  easy  and  probable  possibility  of 
bettering  my  situation  at  one  blow  !  And  the  many 
examples  !  Apart  from  my  own  gains,  I  saw  every 
day  how  the  other  gamblers  won  from  20,000  to 
30,000  francs  (one  never  sees  anyone  lose).  Why 
should  those  others  do  better  than  I  ?  I  need  the 
money  more  than  they  do.  I  risked  again,  and  lost. 
I  lost  not  only  what  I  had  won,  but  also  my  own 
money  down  to  the  last  farthing;  I  got  feverishly 
excited,  and  lost  all  the  time.  Then  I  began  to  pawn 
my  garments.  Anna  Grigorovna  pawned  her  last, 
her  very  last,  possession.  (That  angel !  How  she 
consoled  me,  how  she  suffered  in  that  cursed  Baden, 
in  our  two  tiny  rooms  above  the  blacksmith's  forge, 
the  only  place  we  could  afford  !)  At  last  I  had  had 
enough;  everything  was  gone.  (How  base  are  these 
Germans  !  They  are  all  usurers,  rascals,  and  cheats  ! 
When  our  landlady  saw  that  we  could  not  leave, 
having  no  money,  she  raised  our  prices  !)  At  last  we 
had  to  save  ourselves  somehow  and  flee  from  Baden. 
I  wrote  again  to  Katkov  and  begged  him  for  500 
roubles  (I  wrote  nothing  of  the  circumstances,  but 
as  the  letter  came  from  Baden,  he  probably  guessed 
the  state  of  affairs).  And  he  sent  me  the  money  ! 
He  did  really  !  So  now  I  have  had  altogether  from 
the  Roussky  Viestnik  4,000  roubles  in  advance. 

Now  to  end  my  Baden  adventures:  we  agonized 
in  that  hell  for  seven  weeks.  Directly  after  my 
arrival  there,  I  met  Gontscharov  at  the  railway- 


£51.45]    HIS  QUARREL  WITH  TURGENEV    115 

station.  At  first  Ivan  Alexandrovitch  was  cautious 
before  me.  That  State-Councillor — or  State-Council- 
lor that  ought-to-be — was  also  occupied  in  gambling. 
But  when  he  realized  that  it  could  not  be  kept  a 
secret,  and  as  I  myself  was  playing  with  gross  pub- 
licity, he  soon  ceased  to  pretend  to  me.  He  played 
with  feverish  excitement  (though  only  for  small 
stakes).  He  played  during  the  whole  fortnight  that 
he  spent  in  Baden,  and  lost,  I  think,  quite  a  good 
deal.  But  God  give  this  good  fellow  health;  when  I 
had  lost  everything  (he  had,  however,  seen  me  with 
large  sums  in  my  hands),  he  gave  me,  at  my  request, 
60  francs.  Certainly  he  lectured  me  terribly  at  the 
same  time,  because  I  had  lost  all,  and  not  only  half, 
like  him  ! 

Gontscharov  talked  incessantly  about  Turgenev;  I 
kept  putting  off  my  visit  to  him — still,  eventually  I 
had  to  call.  I  went  about  noon,  and  found  him  at 
breakfast.  I'll  tell  you  frankly — I  never  really  liked 
that  man.  The  worst  of  it  is  that  since  185 7,*  at 
Wiesbaden,  I've  owed  him  50  dollars  (which  even 
to-day  I  haven't  yet  paid  back  !).  I  can't  stand  the 
aristocratic  and  Pharisaical  sort  of  way  he  embraces 
one,  and  offers  his  cheek  to  be  kissed.  He  puts  on 
monstrous  airs;  but  my  bitterest  complaint  against 
him  is  his  book  "  Smoke."  He  told  me  himself  that 
the  leading  idea,  the  point  at  issue,  in  that  book,  is 
this:  "If  Russia  were  destroyed  by  an  earthquake 
and  vanished  from  the  globe,  it  would  mean  no  loss 
to  humanity — it  would  not  even  be  noticed."  He 
declared  to  me  that  that  was  his  fundamental  view  of 
Russia.  I  found  him  in  irritable  mood;  it  was  on 
account  of  the  failure  of  "  Smoke."  I  must  tell  you 
that  at  the  time  the  full  details  of  that  failure  were 
unknown  to  me.  I  had  heard  by  letter  of  Strachov's 

1  An  error.     He  can  refer  only  to  the  year  1862  or  1863. 


n6  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxiv 

article  in  the  0.  Z.,  but  I  didn't  know  that  they  had 
torn  him  to  pieces  in  all  the  other  papers  as  well,  and 
that  in  Moscow,  at  a  club,  I  believe,  people  had 
collected  signatures  to  a  protest  against  "  vSmoke." 
He  told  me  that  himself.  Frankly,  I  never  could 
have  imagined  that  anyone  could  so  naively  and 
clumsily  display  all  the  wounds  in  his  vanity,  as 
Turgenev  did  that  day;  and  these  people  go  about 
boasting  that  they  are  atheists.  He  told  me  that  he 
was  an  uncompromising  atheist.  My  God  !  It  is  to 
Deism  that  we  owe  the  Saviour — that  is  to  say,  the 
conception  of  a  man  so  noble  that  one  cannot  grasp  it 
without  a  sense  of  awe — a  conception  of  which  one 
cannot  doubt  that  it  represents  the  undying  ideal 
of  mankind.  And  what  do  we  owe  to  these  gentry 
— Turgenev,  Herzen,  Utin,  Tchernychevsky  ?  In 
place  of  that  loftiest  divine  beauty  on  which  they 
spit,  we  behold  in  them  such  ugly  vanity,  such  un- 
ashamed susceptibility,  such  ludicrous  arrogance,  that 
it  is  simply  impossible  to  guess  what  it  is  that  they 
hope  for,  and  who  shall  take  them  as  guides.  He 
frightfully  abused  Russia  and  the  Russians.  But  I 
have  noticed  this:  all  those  Liberals  and  Progressives 
who  derive  chiefly  from  Bielinsky's  school,  find  their 
pleasure  and  satisfaction  in  abusing  Russia.  The 
difference  is  that  the  adherents  of  Tchernychevsky 
merely  abuse,  and  in  so  many  words  desire  that 
Russia  should  disappear  from  the  face  of  the  earth 
(that,  first  of  all !).  But  the  others  declare,  in  the 
same  breath,  that  they  love  Russia.  And  yet  they 
hate  everything  that  is  native  to  the  soil,  they 
delight  in  caricaturing  it,  and  were  one  to  oppose 
them  with  some  fact  that  they  could  not  explain 
away  or  caricature — any  fact  with  which  they  were 
obliged  to  reckon — they  would,  I  believe,  be  pro- 
foundly unhappy,  annoyed,  even  distraught.  And 


JET.  45]      DOSTOEVSKY  SPEAKS  OUT  117 

I've  noticed  that  Turgenev — and  for  that  matter  all 
who  live  long  abroad — have  no  conception  of  the  true 
facts  (though  they  do  read  the  newspapers),  and  have 
so  utterly  lost  all  affection  and  understanding  for 
Russia  that  even  those  quite  ordinary  matters  which 
in  Russia  the  very  Nihilists  no  longer  deny,  but  only 
as  it  were  caricature  after  their  manner — these  fellows 
cannot  so  much  as  grasp.    Amongst  other  things  he 
told  me  that  we  are  bound  to  crawl  in  the  dust  before 
the  Germans,  that  there  is  but  one  universal  and 
irrefutable  way — that  of  civilization,   and  that  all 
attempts  to  create  an  independent  Russian  culture 
are  but  folly  and  pigheadedness.   He  said  that  he  was 
writing  a  long  article  against  the  Russophils  and  Slavo- 
phils.    I  advised  him  to  order  a  telescope  from  Paris 
for  his  better  convenience.  "  What  do  you  mean  ?"  he 
asked.     "  The  distance  is  somewhat  great,"  I  replied; 
"  direct  the  telescope  on  Russia,  and  then  you  will  be 
able  to  observe  us;  otherwise  you  can't  really  see 
anything  at  all."    He  flew  into  a  rage.    When  I  saw 
him  so  angry,  I  said  with  well-simulated  naivete": 
"  Really  I  should  never  have  supposed  that  all  the 
articles  derogatory  to  your  new  novel  could  have  dis- 
composed you  to  this  extent ;  by  God,  the  thing's  not 
worth  getting  so  angry  about.     Come,  spit  upon  it 
all !"     "I'm  not  in  the  least  discomposed.    What 
are  you  thinking  of  ?"  he  answered,  getting  red. 

I  interrupted  him,  and  turned  the  talk  to  personal 
and  domestic  matters.  Before  going  away,  I  brought 
forth,  as  if  quite  casually  and  without  any  particular 
object,  all  the  hatred  that  these  three  months  have 
accumulated  in  me  against  the  Germans.  "  Do  you 
know  what  swindlers  and  rogues  they  are  here  ? 
Verily,  the  common  people  are  much  more  evil  and 
dishonest  here  than  they  are  with  us;  and  that  they 
are  stupider  there  can  be  no  doubt.  You  are  always 


n8  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxiv 

talking  of  civilization ;  with  what  has  your  '  civiliza- 
tion '  endowed  the  Germans,  and  wherein  do  they 
surpass  us  ?"  He  turned  pale  (it  is  no  exaggeration), 
and  said:  "  In  speaking  thus,  you  insult  me  person- 
ally. You  know  quite  well  that  I  have  definitely 
settled  here,  that  I  consider  myself  a  German  and 
not  a  Russian,  and  am  proud  of  it."  I  answered: 
"  Although  I  have  read  your  '  Smoke,'  and  have  just 
talked  with  you  for  a  whole  hour,  I  could  never 
have  imagined  that  you  would  say  such  a  thing. 
Forgive  me,  therefore,  if  I  have  insulted  you." 

Then  we  took  leave  of  one  another  very  politely, 
and  I  promised  myself  that  I  would  never  again 
cross  Turgenev's  threshold.  The  next  day,  Turgenev 
came  at  exactly  ten  o'clock  in  the  morning  to  my 
abode,  and  left  his  card  with  the  landlady.  But  as  I 
had  told  him  the  day  before  that  I  never  saw  anyone 
till  noon,  and  that  we  usually  slept  till  eleven,  I 
naturally  took  his  ten-o'clock  call  as  a  hint  that  he 
doesn't  wish  to  see  any  more  of  me.  During  the 
whole  seven  weeks,  I  saw  him  only  once  more,  at  the 
railway-station.  We  looked  at  one  another,  but  no 
greeting  passed.  The  animosity  with  which  I  speak 
of  Turgenev,  and  the  insults  we  offered  one  another, 
will  perhaps  strike  you  unpleasantly.  But,  by  God, 
I  can  no  other;  he  offended  me  too  deeply  with  his 
amazing  views.  Personally,  I  really  feel  little  affected, 
though  his  uppish  manners  are  quite  disagreeable 
enough  in  themselves;  but  I  simply  can't  stand  by 
and  listen  when  a  traitor  who,  if  he  chose,  could  be 
of  service  to  his  country,  abuses  Russia  in  the  way  he 
does.  His  tail-wagging  to  the  Germans,  and  his 
hatred  for  the  Russians,  I  had  noticed  already — four 
years  ago.  But  his  present  rage  and  fury  against 
Russia  arises  solely,  solely,  from  the  failure  of 
"  Smoke,"  and  from  the  fact  that  Russia  has  dared 


JET.  45]        REMORSE  AND  ANXIETY  119 

refuse  to  hail  him  as  a  genius.     It  is  nothing  but 
vanity,  and  therefore  all  the  more  repulsive. 

Hear  now,  my  friend,  what  I  have  in  view.  Of 
course  it  was  vile  in  me  to  gamble  away  so  much. 
But  I  have  lost  a  relatively  small  sum  of  my  own 
actual  money.  Still,  it  would  have  lasted  us  for  two 
months — in  our  present  mode  of  living,  even  for  four. 
I  have  already  told  you  that  I  can't  resist  winning. 
If,  right  at  the  beginning,  I  had  lost  the  ten  louis- 
d'or  that  I  chose  to  stake,  I  should  certainly  have 
played  no  more,  and  gone  away  at  once.  But  the 
gain  of  4,000  francs  destroyed  me.  The  temptation 
of  winning  more  (which  appeared  so  easy)  and  in 
that  way  paying  all  my  debts,  and  being  able  to 
provide  for  myself  and  mine — Emilie  Fyodorovna, 
Pasha,  and  the  others  ...  it  was  too  much  for  me, 
I  could  not  resist  it.  But  even  this  is  no  excuse,  for 
I  was  not  alone.  I  had  with  me  a  young,  warm- 
hearted, pretty  creature  who  trusted  me,  whom  I 
should  have  protected  and  sheltered,  and  whom 
consequently  I  ought  not  to  have  dragged  down 
with  myself  to  destitution,  by  setting  my  entire, 
though  certainly  not  very  great,  possessions  upon  the 
turn  of  a  game.  My  future  appears  to  me  very 
dark;  above  all,  I  cannot,  for  the  reasons  I  have 
mentioned,  return  to  Russia;  and  most  heavily  am  I 
oppressed  by  the  question:  What  is  to  become  of 
those  who  depend  on  my  help  ?  All  these  thoughts 
murder  me.  .  .  . 

You  alone,  my  dear  friend,  are  kind  to  me;  you 
are  my  Providence.  Help  me  in  the  future,  too. 
For  in  all  my  great  and  small  matters,  I  shall  call 
upon  your  aid. 

You  well  understand  the  basis  of  all  my  hopes:  it 
is  clear  that  only  under  one  condition  can  everything 
be  arranged  so  as  to  bring  forth  fruit — namely,  that 


120  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [xxxv 

my  novel  really  succeeds.  To  that  I  must  devote  all 
my  powers.  Ah,  my  dear  fellow,  how  grave,  how 
unendurably  grave  it  was  for  me,  three  years  ago,  to 
yield  to*  the  crazy  hope  that  I  should  be  able  to  pay 
all  those  debts,  and  therefore  to  sign  the  many  bills 
of  exchange.  Whence  shall  I  draw  the  needful 
energy  and  vitality  ?  Experience  indeed  has  shown 
that  I  can  make  a  success;  but  what  are  the  con- 
ditions ?  These  alone :  that  every  one  of  my  works 
so  succeeds  as  to  awaken  the  keenest  public  interest; 
else  all  goes  crash.  And  is  that  really  possible  ?  Is 
there  any  use  in  reckoning  on  it  ?  ... 

[The  letter  ends  with  a  request  for  a  loan  and 
a  further  description  of  Dostoevsky's  desperate 
situation.] 

XXXV 

To  his  Niece,  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

GENEVA, 
September  29  [October  n],  1867. 

Good-day,  my  dear  friend  Sonetchka.  Don't  be 
cross  with  me  for  my  far  too  long  silence — nor  with 
Anna  Grigorovna.  A.  G.  has  had  a  letter  to  you 
ready  for  a  week  and  more,  but  she  will  not  send  it 
with  this,  for  she  wants  to  add  something  to  it. 
Frankly,  I  want  to  entice  an  answer  from  you.  We 
are  so  frightfully  bored  here  in  Geneva  that  every 
letter  you  write  to  us  will  be  reckoned  as  a  good  deed 
to  you  in  Heaven.  Moreover,  you  know  yourself  how 
very  much  I  love  you,  and  how  deeply  interested  I 
am  in  everything  that  happens  in  your  life.  We 
arranged  our  trip  very  stupidly.  We  ought  to  have 
had  more  money,  so  that  we  could  change  our  place 
of  abode  as  often  as  we  wished.  We  have  had  to 


JET.  45]  ANNA  GRIGOROVNA  121 

turn  our  travels  into  a  stay  abroad,  instead  of  a  tour 
through  Europe. 

Life  abroad,  wherever  it  may  be,  is  very  tiresome. 
•As  it  was  very  expensive  and  very  dusty  in  Paris,  and 
as  the  summer  in  Italy  was  very  hot,  and  cholera  was 
cropping  up  there,  we  have  spent  this  summer  in 
different  parts  of  Germany,  which  we  chose  according 
to  the  beauty  of  the  scenery  and  the  goodness  of  the 
air.  Everywhere  it  was  tiresome,  everywhere  the 
scenery  was  fine,  and  everywhere  I  had  fairly  good 
health.  I  was  most  particularly  glad  that  Anna 
Grigorovna  did  not  feel  bored  at  all,  though  I  am  not 
an  over-agreeable  companion,  and  we  have  lived  six 
months  at  a  time  together  without  friends  or  acquaint- 
ance. In  that  time  we  refreshed  many  of  our  old 
memories,  and  I  swear  to  you  that  we  would  have 
enjoyed  ourselves  ten  times  better  if  we  had  spent  the 
summer,  not  in  foreign  lands,  but  at  Lublin,  near  you. 
Anna  Grigorovna  has  developed  a  great  talent  for 
travelling;  wherever  we  went,  she  discovered  every- 
thing that  was  worth  seeing,  and  at  once  wrote  down 
her  impressions;  she  has  filled  countless  little  note- 
books and  so  on  with  her  hieroglyphics;  unfortu- 
nately she  did  not  see  half  enough,  even  so.  At  last 
the  autumn  arrived.  Our  money  no  longer  sufficed 
for  a  trip  to  Italy,  and  there  were  other  hindrances 
besides.  We  thought  of  Paris,  and  later  regretted 
much  that  we  had  not  gone  there,  instead  of  to 
Geneva.  I  had  already,  it  is  true,  been  three  times 
at  Geneva,  but  had  never  stayed  there  long,  and  so 
knew  nothing  of  the  climate  of  the  town :  the  weather 
changes  at  least  three  times  a  day,  and  I  have  had 
my  attacks  again,  just  as  in  ^Petersburg.  Never- 
theless I  must  work,  and  must  stop  at  least  five 
months  at  Geneva.  I  am  very  seriously  attacking  a 
novel  (which  I  shall  give  myself  the  pleasure  of 


122  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [xxxv 

dedicating  to  you,  that  is,  Sonetchka,  Sofia  Alexan- 
drovna  Ivanovna,  as  I  long  since  decided);  I  am 
going  to  publish  it  in  the  Roussky  Viestnik.  I  don't 
know  whether  I  shall  bring  it  off;  my  God,  if  it 
weren't  for  my  poverty,  I  should  never  have  made  up 
my  mind  to  publish  it  now — that  is,  in  these  days  of 
ours.  The  sky  is  so  overcast.  Napoleon  has  declared 
that  already  he  perceives  several  black  marks  on  his 
horizon.  To  settle  the  Mexican,  the  Italian,  and, 
chiefest  of  all,  the  German  questions,  he  will  have 
to  divert  public  attention  by  a  war,  and  win  the 
French  to  himself  by  the  old  method — a  successful 
campaign.  But  though  the  French  of  to-day  are 
probably  not  thus  to  be  beguiled,  a  war  is  nevertheless 
very  likely.  You  will  already  have  seen  this  yourself 
(do  you,  by  the  way,  read  some  newspapers  ?  For 
God's  sake,  do  !  Nowadays  they  must  be  read,  not 
only  because  it  is  the  mode,  but  so  as  to  trace  the  ever 
more  decisively  and  strikingly  evident  connection  of 
great  and  small  events).  But  if  war  does  break  out, 
artistic  wares  will  fall  considerably  in  price.  This  is 
a  very  important  contingency,  which  of  itself  makes 
me  thoughtful.  With  us  in  Russia,  indeed,  there  has 
lately  been  apparent,  even  without  war,  a  great  in- 
difference to  artistic  things.  Most  of  all  I  dread 
mediocrity:  a  work  should  either  be  very  good  or 
very  bad,  but,  for  its  life,  not  mediocre.  Mediocrity 
that  takes  up  thirty  printed  sheets  is  something  quite 
unpardonable. 

I  beg  you,  dear,  to  write  me  as  fully  as  possible 
about  everything  that  has  happened  to  you  and 
yours  in  these  six  months.  What  have  you — I  mean 
you,  yourself — been  doing,  and  what  are  your  plans  ? 
We  shall  have  to  make  ours  very  much  the  same. 
My  passport  is  good  only  for  six  months,  but  I  shall 
have  to  stay  here  six  months  longer,  or  perhaps  even 


JET.  45]  RUSSIAN  ABSENTEES  123 

more.  It  depends  on  purely  business  matters.  And 
yet  I  should  like  to  get  back  to  Russia,  and  that  for 
many  reasons.  In  the  first  place,  I  should  then  have 
a  fixed  place  of  abode.  Moreover,  after  my  return,  I 
should  decidedly  like  to  edit  something  in  the  shape 
of  a  paper.1  (I  think  I  have  spoken  before  to  you 
of  this;  the  form  and  scope  of  the  undertaking  I 
now  see  quite  clearly  in  my  mind's  eye.)  Now  for 
that,  I  must  be  at  home,  where  I  can  hear  everything 
with  my  own  ears  and  see  it  with  my  own  eyes.  For 
the  rest,  I'm  glad  that  I  now  have  some  work  on 
hand;  if  I  hadn't,  I  should  die  of  ennui;  whether, 
when  the  novel  is  finished  (which  it  may  not  be  for  a 
long  time),  I  shall  begin  anything  else  in  these  foreign 
lands,  I  really  don't  know.  I  simply  can't  understand 
the  Russian  "  tourists,"  who  often  stay  here  three 
years.  A  trip  abroad  may  be  useful,  and  even  enjoy- 
able, if  it  lasts  about  six  months,  and  if  one  stays 
nowhere  longer  than  a  fortnight  and  keeps  continually 
on  the  go.  And  one  might  really  get  well  on  such 
a  trip.  But  there  are  people  who  live  here  long 
with  their  families,  educate  their  children  here,  forget 
the  Russian  language,  and  finally,  when  they  are  at 
the  end  of  their  resources,  return  home,  and  set  up  to 
instruct  us,  instead  of  learning  from  us.  Yes;  here 
they  stay  mouldering,  and  then  need  a  whole  year  to 
get  used  to  things  at  home  and  fall  into  the  right 
groove  again.  In  particular  a  writer  (unless  he's  a 
scholar  or  a  specialist)  can't  possibly  stay  long.  In 
our  craft,  truth  is  the  chief  thing;  but  here  one  can 
see  only  Swiss  truth. 

Geneva  lies  on  the  Lake  of  Geneva.  The  lake  is 
wonderful,  its  shores  are  picturesque,  but  Geneva 
itself  is  the  essence  of  tedium.  It  is  an  old  Protestant 

1  "  The  Diary  of  a  Writer."  (This  plan  was  carried  out  in 
1873-) 


124  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [xxxv 

town,  and  yet  one  sees  countless  drunken  people 
everywhere.  When  I  arrived  here,  the  Peace  Con- 
gress was  just  beginning,  to  which  Garibaldi  himself 
came.  He  went  away  immediately  afterwards.  It 
was  really  incredible  how  these  socialist  and  revolu- 
tionary gentlemen  whom  hitherto  I  had  known  only 
from  books,  sat  and  flung  down  lies  from  the  platform 
to  their  audience  of  five  thousand !  It's  quite 
indescribable.  One  can  hardly  realize,  even  for  one's- 
self,  the  absurdity,  feebleness,  futility,  disunion,  and 
the  depth  of  essential  contradictoriness.  And  it  is 
this  rabble  which  is  stirring  up  the  whole  unfortunate 
working-class  !  It's  too  deplorable.  That  they  may 
attain  to  peace  on  earth,  they  want  to  root  out  the 
Christian  faith,  annihilate  the  Great  Powers  and  cut 
them  up  into  a  lot  of  small  ones,  abolish  capital, 
declare  that  all  property  is  common  to  all,  and  so 
forth.  And  all  this  is  affirmed  with  no  logical 
demonstration  whatever;  what  they  learnt  twenty 
years  ago,  they  are  still  babbling  to-day.  Only  when 
fire  and  sword  have  exterminated  everything,  can,  in 
their  belief,  eternal  peace  ensue.  But  enough  of  this. 
I  shall  most  certainly  answer  your  letters,  dear,  by 
return  of  post. 

Your  very  loving 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 

XXXVI 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

GENEVA, 
October  g  [21],  1867. 

[At  first  he  talks  of  his  want  of  money.] 

As  far  as  I  personally  am  concerned,  I  don't  care 
at  all  where  I  spend  the  next  five  months,  for  I 
intend  to  work  for  at  least  that  time.  But  though 


JET.  46]  THE  GENEVESE  125 

that  is  so,  Geneva  is  nevertheless  detestable  and  I 
deceived  myself  grossly  in  regard  to  it.  My  attacks 
recur  every  week  here;  and  also  I  sometimes  have 
a  peculiar,  very  troublesome  fluttering  of  the  heart. 
It  is  a  horrible  town,  like  Cayenne.  There  are 
storms  that  last  for  days,  and  even  on  the  most 
normal  days  the  weather  changes  three  and  four 
times.  And  this  I  have  to  endure — /,  with  my 
haemorrhoids  and  epilepsy  !  And  then,  it's  so 
gloomy,  so  depressing  !  And  the  people  are  so  self- 
satisfied  and  boastful !  It  is  the  mark  of  quite 
peculiar  stupidity  to  be  so  self-satisfied.  Everything 
is  ugly  here,  utterly  rotten,  and  expensive.  The 
people  are  always  drunk  !  Even  in  London  there 
are  not  so  many  rowdies  and  "  drunks."  Every 
single  thing,  every  post  in  the  street,  they  regard  as 
beautiful  and  majestic.  "  Where  is  such-and-such  a 
street  ?"  one  asks.  "  Voyez,  monsieur,  vous  irez  tout 
droit,  et  quand  vous  passerez  prls  de  cette  majestueuse 
et  elegante  fontaine  en  bronze,  vous  prendrez,"  etc. 
The  "  majestueuse  et  elegante  fontaine  "  is  an  insig- 
nificant and  tasteless  object  in  the  rococo  style;  but  a 
Genevese  must  always  boast,  even  if  you  only  ask  him 
the  way.  They've  made  a  little  garden  out  of  a  few 
bushes  (there's  not  a  single  tree  in  it),  about  as  big  as 
two  of  fche  front  gardens  that  one  sees  in  Sadovaya 
Street  in  Moscow;  but  they  must  needs  photograph 
it,  and  sell  the  pictures  as  a  view  of  "  the  English 
Garden  at  Geneva."  The  devil  run  away  with  the 
humbugs  !  And  all  the  while  there  lies,  only  two 
and  a  half  hours  from  Geneva  on  the  same  lake,  the 
town  of  Vevey,  where,  I  am  told,  the  climate  in 
winter  is  very  healthy  and  even  pleasant.  Who 
knows — perhaps  we  shall  move  over  there,  one  of 
these  days.  Nothing  depends  on  me  now.  Let  come 
what  come  will. 


126  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxvi 

Of  my  work  I  will  write  you  nothing,  for  I  have 
nothing  to  say  about  it  as  yet.  Only  one  thing:  I 
have  to  go  at  it  hard,  very  hard  indeed.  In  the 
intervals,  my  attacks  rob  me  of  all  vitality,  and  after 
each  one,  I  can't  collect  my  thoughts  for  at  least  four 
days.  And  how  well  I  was,  at  first,  in  Germany  ! 
This  confounded  Geneva  !  I  don't  know  what  on 
eartfc  will  become  of  us.  And  the  novel  is  my  one 
means  of  salvation.  The  worst  of  it  is  that  it  must 
absolutely  come  off.  Nothing  less  will  do.  That's  a 
sine  qua  non.  But  how  can  it,  when  all  my  capabili- 
ties are  utterly  crippled  by  my  malady  !  I  still  have 
my  power  of  vision  intact;  of  late  my  work  has 
shown  me  that.  And  nerves  I  have  still.  But  I 
have  lost  all  memory.  In  short,  I  must  take  this 
book  by  storm,  fling  myself  on  it  head  foremost,  and 
stake  all  on  the  hazard  of  the  die,  come  what  may  ! 
Enough  of  that. 

I  read  the  news  about  Kelsiyev1  with  much  emo- 
tion. That's  the  right  way,  that's  truth  and  reason  ! 
But  be  you  very  sure  of  this — that  (of  course  except- 
ing the  Poles)  all  our  Liberals  of  socialistic  leanings 
will  rage  like  wild  beasts.  It  will  thrill  them  to  the 
marrow.  They'll  hate  it  worse  than  if  all  their  noses 
had  been  cut  off.  What  are  they  to  say  now,  whom 
now  shall  they  bespatter  ?  The  most  they  can  do  is 
to  gnash  their  teeth;  and  everyone  at  home  quite 
understands  that.  Have  you  ever  yet  heard  a 
sensible  idea  from  any  of  our  Liberals  ?  They  can 
but  gnash  their  teeth,  at  any  time;  and  indeed  it 
mightily  impresses  school-boys.  Of  Kelsiyev,  it  will 
now  be  maintained  that  he  has  denounced  them  all. 
By  God,  you'll  see  that  I  am  right.  But  can  anyone 

1  V.  Kelsiyev,  a  political  emigre,  and  collaborator  with 
Herzen.  He  came  back  to  Russia  penitent,  and  became  a 
collaborator  on  the  extremely  conservative  Rousshy  Viesttiik. 


JET.  46]  LONG  LIVE  RUSSIA !  127 

"  denounce  "  them,  I  ask  you  ?  In  the  first  place, 
they  have  themselves  compromised  themselves;  in 
the  second — who  takes  the  slightest  interest  in  them  ? 
They're  not  worth  denouncing  !  .  .  . 

[Again  he  writes  of  money  and  business  matters.] 

What  will  happen  now  jn  politics  ?  In  what  will 
all  our  anticipations  end  ?  Napoleon  seems  to  have 
something  up  his  sleeve.  Italy,  Germany.  .  .  My 
heart  stood  still  with  joy  when  I  read  the  news  that 
the  railway  is  to  be  opened  as  far  as  Kursk.  Let  it 
but  come  quickly,  and  then — long  live  Russia  ! 

XXXVII 

To  his  Stepson,  P.  A .  Issayev 

GENEVA, 
October  10  [22],  1867. 

Your  letter,  dear  boy,  uncommonly  delighted  me. 
If  you  thought  that  I  should  forget  you  after  my 
marriage  (for  I  observed  that  you  really  were  of  that 
opinion,  and  I  purposely  did  not  set  you  right),  you 
were  wholly  mistaken.  It  is  quite  the  other  way. 
Know  now  that  I  care  for  you  even  more  since  my 
marriage,  and  God  be  my  witness  that  I  suffer  very 
much  through  being  able  to  help  you  so  little.  I 
have  always  considered  you  a  cheerful,  plucky  boy, 
and  I  retain  that  opinion.  A  person  with  those 
qualities  must  be  happy  in  any  position  of  life.  I 
also  think  you  very  intelligent.  Only  one  thing  is 
against  you:  your  lack  of  education.  But  if  you 
really  have  no  desire  to  learn  something,  at  least  hear 
my  advice:  you  must,  in  any  case,  be  earnest  about 
your  moral  development,  so  far  as  that  is  capable  of 
going  without  education  (but,  for  education,  one 


128  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS       [xxxvn 

shall  strive  unto  one's  life's  end) .  On  my  departure, 
I  begged  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  to  be  a  friend  to  you, 
and  assist  you  with  good  counsel.  Pasha,  he  is  the 
rarest  of  rare  men,  mark  that.  I  have  known  him 
now  for  twenty  years.  He  will  alwaj^s  be  able  to 
direct  you  wisely.  Above  all  things,  you  must  be 
frank  and  upright  in  your  intercourse  with  him.  I 
have  known  for  some  time  that  you  have  been 
offered  a  place,  and  are  still  offered  it.  I  advise  you 
to  take  that  place.  I  believe  that  a  position  with  a 
police-magistrate  would  be  incomparably  more  useful 
for  you.  You  could  in  that  way  obtain  a  practical 
acquaintance  with  judicial  matters,  you  could  develop 
yourself,  and  accumulate  much  knowledge.  But  I 
have  no  confidence  in  you.  One  has  to  work  very 
hard  in  such  a  post,  and  then  it's  very  important  to 
know  what  sort  of  man  you  would  be  likely  to  go  to. 
If  to  a  good  sort,  well  and  good;  but  if  to  a  bad,  as 
bad  as  possible.  Moreover,  a  provincial  town  like 
Ladoga  is  very  dangerous  at  your  age,  particularly 
such  a  dull  and  inferior  sort  of  place.  Of  course,  the 
social  relations  in  the  railway-service  are  very  bad. 
But  I  am  of  opinion  that  even  in  the  highest 
Government-offices  the  social  side  is  rotten-bad; 
only  there,  more  refined  manners  prevail.  For  this 
reason,  Petersburg  would  be  better,  for  there  one  can 
find  suitable  society.  But  anyhow,  you  must  take 
this  place.  As  regards  the  danger  of  your  falling 
into  evil  ways,  I  have  some  confidence  in  you  there. 
You  can't  possibly  have  forgotten  your  dead  father 
and  mother.  Realize  that  I  don't  advise  you  to  take 
this  place  (nor  on  account  of  the  salary  either)  because 
in  that  way  you  will  cease  to  be  a  charge  on  me. 
Know  that,  though  I  have  not  a  farthing  to  spare,  I 
shall  support  you  to  my  life's  end,  whatever  age  you 
may  be.  I  give  you  this  advice  for  the  sake  of  work 


JET.  46]  CHAMPAGNE  129 

alone,  for  work  is  the  most  important  of  all  things. 
Anna  Grigorovna  loves  you  as  I  do.  Write  me  fully 
about  everything. 

XXXVIII 

To  his  Sister  Vera,  and  his  Brother-in-Law 
Alexander  Pavlovitch  Ivanov 

GENEVA, 
January  i  [13},  1868. 

MY  DEAR  AND  PRECIOUS  ALEXANDER  PAVLOVITCH 

AND  VERA  MICHAILOVNA  ! 
First  of  all,  I  embrace  you,  congratulate  you  on 
the  New  Year,  and  wish  you  of  course  most  heartily 
everything  of  the  best !  Yesterday  Anna  Grigorovna 
surprised  me  with  a  quarter-bottle  of  champagne, 
which,  at  exactly  half-past  ten  o'clock  in  the  evening, 
when  it  was  striking  twelve  in  Moscow,  she  placed  on 
our  tea-table;  we  clinked  glasses,  and  drank  to  the 
health  of  all  our  dear  ones.  Who  are  dearer  to  me 
(and  to  Anna  Grigorovna,  her  nearest  relatives  ex- 
cepted)  than  you  and  your  children  ?  Besides  you, 
only  Fedya1  and  his  family,  and  Pasha;  there  stand 
written  all  my  precious  ones,  for  whom  I  care.  I 
have  received  both  your  letters,  the  last  and  the 
November  one;  forgive  my  not  having  answered  till 
now.  I  love  you  always,  and  think  of  you  no  less 
than  hitherto.  But  I  have  been  continually  in  such 
a  state  of  stress  and  dissatisfaction  that  I  put  off 
answering  to  a  better  period;  and  indeed,  of  late,  I 
have  (literally)  not  had  a  single  free  hour.  I  have 
been  working  all  the  time — writing,  and  then  destroy- 
ing what  I  had  written;  not  until  the  end  of  December 
was  I  able  to  send  the  first  part  of  my  novel2  to 

1  Dostoevsky's  nephew,  son  of  his  brother  Michael. 
3  "  The  Idiot." 

9 


130  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS      [xxxvm 

the  Romsky  Viestnik.  They  wanted  it  for  the 
January  number,  and  I  am  afraid  the  MS.  arrived 
too  late. 

And  now,  for  me,  nearly  everything  depends  on 
this  work:  my  existence,  daily  bread,  and  my  whole 
future.  I  have  had  huge  advances  of  money  from 
the  Roussky  Viestnik — nearly  4,500  roubles;  then,  in 
Petersburg,  I  still  have  bills  to  meet  to  the  amount 
of  at  least  3,000;  and  at  the  same  time  I  must  exist 
somehow  or  other — and  at  such  a  period  !  Therefore 
I  stake  all  my  hopes  on  the  novel;  I  shall  have  to 
work  incessantly,  scarcely  rising  from  my  desk,  for 
the  next  four  months.  I  am  so  very  much  behind- 
hand, because  I  have  rejected  nearly  all  that  I've 
written  up  to  the  present.  The  book  will,  by 
the  Roussky  Viestnik's  rates,  bring  me  in  about 
6,000  roubles.  Now  I've  had  4,500  in  advance; 
consequently  I  have  only  1,500  to  get.  If  it  really 
succeeds,  I  shall,  in  September,  sell  (as  I  am  accus- 
tomed always  to  do)  the  second  edition  for  about 
3,000  roubles.  In  that  way  I  shall  manage  to  live, 
pay  off,  in  September,  about  1,500  roubles  of  my 
debts,  and  come  back  to  Russia.  Thus  everything 
depends  on  my  work  now :  my  whole  future  and  my 
whole  present;  and  if  the  book  is  in  any  way  good, 
I  shall  get  further  credit  from  the  Viestnik  in 
September.  Now  I'll  tell  you  about  our  life  and 
circumstances  up  to  the  present. 

In  that  respect,  it's  all  monotonous  enough;  while 
we  are  in  Geneva,  every  day  resembles  every  other. 
I  write,  and  Anna  Grigorovna  works  at  the  outfit 
for  the  little  person  whom  we  are  expecting,  or  does 
shorthand  for  me  when  I  need  her  help.  She  bears 
her  condition  excellently  (though  lately  she  has  not 
been  quite  so  well) ;  our  life  suits  her  admirably,  and 
she  only  longs  for  her  Mama.  Our  seclusion  is  to 


JBT.  46]  LIFE  AT  GENEVA  131 

me  personally  of  great  value;  without  it  I  could  not 
have  worked  at  all.  But,  all  the  same,  Geneva, 
except  for  the  view  of  Mont  Blanc,  the  lake,  and  the 
River  Rhone  that  flows  from  it,  is  mightily  tedious. 
I  knew  that  before ;  but  circumstances  arranged 
themselves  in  such  a  way  that  in  our  situation  we 
could  find  no  other  abode  for  the  winter  than  just 
this  Geneva,  whither  we  came  by  chance  in  Septem- 
ber. In  Paris,  for  instance,  the  winter  is  much  colder, 
and  wood  ten  times  dearer,  as  everything  is.  We 
really  wanted  to  go  to  Italy — that  is  to  Milan,  of 
course  (not  farther  south),  where  the  winter  climate 
is  incomparably  milder;  while  the  town,  with  its 
Cathedral,  theatre,  and  galleries,  is  much  more 
attractive.  But  in  the  first  place,  all  Europe,  and 
particularly  Italy,  was  at  that  very  time  threatened 
with  a  campaign;  and  for  a  woman  with  child  to 
find  herself  in  the  middle  of  a  campaign  would  have 
been  far  from  pleasant.  Secondly,  it  was  eminently 
desirable  that  we  should  be  able  to  render  ourselves 
intelligible  to  the  doctor  and  the  midwife,  and  we  do 
not  know  Italian.  Germany  was  out  of  our  way,  nor 
did  we  much  desire  to  return  there.  Geneva  is,  at 
any  rate,  a  cultivated  town  with  libraries,  and  many 
doctors,  etc.,  who  all  speak  French.  We  had  not,  to 
be  sure,  guessed  that  it  would  be  so  dull  here,  nor 
that  there  are  periodical  winds  (called  bises),  which 
come  over  the  mountains,  bringing  with  them  the 
chill  of  the  eternal  ice.  In  our  first  abode  we  suffered 
much;  the  houses  here  are  shockingly  built;  instead 
of  stoves  there  are  only  fireplaces,  and  there  are  no 
double  windows.  So  all  day  long  one  has  to  keep 
burning  wood  in  the  fireplace  (wood  is  very  expen- 
sive here  also,  though  Switzerland  is  the  only  land  of 
Western  Europe  where  wood  is  really  abundant) — 
and  one  might  as  well  be  trying  to  warm  the  yard 


132  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS      [xxxvm 

outside.  In  my  room  it  was  often  only  six  and  even 
five  degrees  above  zero;  in  the  others  it  sometimes 
happened  that  the  water  in  the  jug  froze  at  night. 
But  for  the  last  month  or  so,  we've  been  in  a  new 
house.  Two  of  the  rooms  are  very  good,  and  one  of 
them  is  so  warm  that  one  can  live  and  work  comfort- 
ably in  it.  With  us  in  Geneva  the  temperature  never 
fell  below  eight  degrees;  in  Florence  it  was  ten 
degrees  above,  and  at  Montpellier  in  France,  on  the 
Mediterranean  Sea,  farther  south  than  Geneva,  it 
was  fifteen  above. 

I  haven't  written  to  Petersburg  for  a  long  time, 
and  I  scarcely  ever  hear  from  them.  I  am  much 
perturbed  by  the  thought  that  Fedya  and  Pasha  need 
money,  which  must  be  sent  them  as  soon  as  may  be. 
But  I  can't  possibly  expect  any  large  sum  from  the 
Roussky  Viestnik  until  I  deliver  the  second  part  of  the 
novel,  which  won't  be,  at  earliest,  for  three  weeks; 
for  I  have  already  had  too  much  money  in  advance, 
and  have  only  worked  off  about  1,000  roubles;  this 
worries  me  so  that  I  often  can't  sleep  at  night. 
Fedya  can't  manage  without  extra  help,  and  Pasha 
must  have  his  money  regularly.  I  live  on  the 
hundred  roubles  that  the  Viestnik  sends  me  monthly. 
And  soon  I  too  shall  need  much  more  than  that. 
At  the  end  of  February  (by  the  Style  here)  Anna 
Grigorovna  will  be  a  mother,  and  for  that  occasion 
I  must  absolutely  have  money,  and  a  margin — for 
one  can't  calculate  with  any  certainty  beforehand 
how  much  one  will  need.  How  goes  it  with  you  ? 
Your  letters  are  real  treats  to  me,  and  I  wish  I  could 
go  to  Moscow  just  to  see  you  all.  But,  once  more, 
my  future  depends  on  my  work.  I  beg  you  to  write 
me  most  fully  about  yourselves  and  the  children. 
By-the-bye,  I  was  greatly  vexed,  Veryotchka,  by  your 
letter  in  November,  saying  that  you  want  to  get  a 


ST.  46]       NO  FRENCH  GOVERNESS  !  133 

Frenchwoman  for  your  children.  Why  ?  To  what 
end  ?  On  account  of  the  accent  ?  From  a  French- 
woman and  even  from  a  French  tutor,  one  can't 
possibly  (I  know  it  by  my  own  experience)  acquire 
the  French  tongue  in  all  its  subtleties.  One  can 
acquire  it  only  by  firmly  resolving  to  do  so;  and 
even  then,  perfectly  to  obtain  the  accent,  one  needs  an 
extraordinarily  strong  will.  I  consider  the  "  accent  " 
superfluous.  Believe  me,  dear  Veryotchka,  by  the 
time  your  children  are  grown-up,  French  will  no 
longer  be  spoken  in  our  drawing-rooms.  Even  to-day, 
it  has  often  a  most  absurd  effect.  It  is  a  different 
matter  to  be  able  to  understand  and  read  a  language. 
Then,  if  one's  travelling,  and  it's  necessary,  one  can 
make  shift  to  speak  it;  but  otherwise  it's  quite 
enough  to  understand  and  read  it.  What  is  the 
Frenchwoman  going  to  talk  to  the  children  about  ? 
Nothing  but  tomfoolery;  and  affected  as  she  is,  and 
powerful  as  she'll  be,  she'll  infect  them  with  her 
vulgar,  corrupt,  ridiculous,  and  imbecile  code  of 
manners,  and  her  distorted  notions  about  religion 
and  society.  It's  a  pleasure  now  to  observe  your 
children.  The  tone  in  your  house  is  unconstrained 
and  frank;  everything  bears  the  stamp  of  happy, 
tranquil  family-life.  The  Frenchwoman  will  intro- 
duce a  new  and  evil  French  element.  While  of  the 
expense  I  need  not  speak. 

Yet  another  remark:  If  people  want  to  acquire  a 
correct  French  accent  nowadays,  they  must  adopt 
the  guttural  Parisian  mode,  which  is  very  ugly  and 
offensive  to  the  ear.  This  accent  is  modern,  and  has 
been  fashionable  in  Paris  only  within  the  last  twenty- 
five  years  at  most.  Our  tutors  and  governesses  don't 
yet  dare  to  introduce  it  among  us.  Therefore  your 
children  would  not  acquire  this  "  correct  pronuncia- 
tion." But  I  have  written  too  much  about  the 


134  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxix 

governess.  I  am  now  about  to  take  a  rest  of  two 
days,  and  then  set  to  work  again.  The  state  of  my 
health  has  remarkably  improved  since  the  autumn. 
Sometimes  I  don't  have  a  single  attack  for  seven 
weeks  at  a  stretch.  And  yet  I  am  occupied  in  most 
exacting  brain-work.  I  can't  understand  how  it  has 
come  to  pass,  but  I'm  very  glad  of  it. 

Till  next  time,  my  dear  and  precious  ones.  I 
kiss  and  embrace  you,  wish  you  heartily,  as  brother 
and  friend,  all  that  is  best,  and  beg  you  too  not 
to  forget  us.  My  address  is  still  Geneva.  Perhaps 
at  the  end  of  April  we  may  go  over  Mont  C  >nis  into 
Italy,  to  Milan  and  Lake  Como.  That  v  ill  be  a 
real  Paradise !  Everything  depends,  however,  on 
my  work.  Wish  me  success. 

Your 
FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


XXXIX 

To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

GENEVA, 
January  i  [13],  1868. 

MY  DEAR  PRECIOUS  SONETCHKA, 

Despite  your  request  I  have  not  even  yet 
answered  your  letter,  and  give  you  herewith  my 
word  of  honour  that  henceforth  I  will  write  regularly 
every  month.  In  my  letter  to  Alexander  Pavlovitch 
I  explained,  as  well  as  I  could,  the  reason  for  my 
silence.  All  the  time  I  was  in  such  a  bad  temper 
and  such  continuous  anxiety,  that  I  felt  I  needed  to 
shut  myself  into  myself,  and  bear  my  woe  in  solitude. 
In  those  days  I  should  have  found  it  hard  to  write  to 
you — what  could  I  have  said  ?  Should  I  have  talked 
of  my  bad  temper  ?  (It  would  certainly  iiave  found 


*T.  46]  "THE  IDIOT"  135 

expression,  anyhow,  in  my  letter.)    But  this  non- 
sense is  irrelevant.     My  position  was  most  difficult. 
On  my  work  hangs  my  whole  future.     I  have  not 
only  had  an  advance  of  4,500   roubles  from  the 
Viestnik,  but  have  also  promised  on  my  word  of 
honour,  and  reiterated  that  promise  in  every  letter, 
that  the  novel  should  really  be  written.     But  directly 
before  dispatching  the  finished  MS.  to  the  office,  I 
found  myself  obliged  to  destroy  the  greater  part  of  it, 
for  I  was  no  longer  pleased  with  it — and  if  one  is 
displeased  with  one's  work,  it  can't  possibly  be  good. 
So  I  destroyed  the  greater  part  of  what  I  had  written. 
Yet  on  this  novel,  and  on  the  payment  of  my  debts, 
depended    my    whole    present    and    future.     Three 
weeks  ago  (December  18  by  the  Style  here)  I  attacked 
another  novel,  and  am  now  working  day  and  night. 
The  idea  of  the  book  is  the  old  one  which  I  always 
have  so  greatly  liked;   but  it  is  so  difficult  that 
hitherto  I  never  have  had  the  courage  to  carry  it  out ; 
and  if  I'm  setting  to  work  at  it  now,  it's  only  because 
I'm  in  a  desperate  plight.    The  basic  idea  is  the 
representation  of  a  truly  perfect  and  noble  man.   And 
this  is  more  difficult  than  anything  else  in  the  world, 
particularly  nowadays.     All  writers,  not  ours  alone 
but  foreigners  also,  who  have  sought  to  represent 
Absolute  Beauty,  were  unequal  to  the  task,  for  it  is 
an  infinitely  difficult  one.    The  beautiful  is  the  ideal ; 
but  ideals,  with  us  as  in  civilized  Europe,  have  long 
been  wavering.    There  is  in  the  world  only  one  figure 
of  absolute  beauty:  Christ.     That  infinitely  lovely 
figure  is,  as  a  matter  of  course,  an  infinite  marvel 
(the  whole  Gospel  of  St.  John  is  full  of  this  thought : 
John  sees  the  wonder  of  the  Incarnation,  the  visible 
apparition  of  the  Beautiful).     I  have  gone  too  far 
in  my  explanation.     I  will  only  say  further  that  of 
all  the  noble  figures  in  Christian  literature,  I  reckon 


136  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [xxxix 

Don  Quixote  as  the  most  perfect.     But  Don  Quixote 
is  noble  only  by  being  at  the  same  time  comic.    And 
Dickens's  Pickwickians  (they  were  certainly  much 
weaker  than  Don  Quixote,  but  still  it's  a  powerful 
work)  are  comic,  and  this  it  is  which  gives  them 
their  great  value.     The  reader  feels  sympathy  and 
compassion   with   the   Beautiful,    derided   and   un- 
conscious of  its  own  worth.     The  secret  of  humour 
consists  precisely  in  this  art  of  wakening  the  reader's 
sympathy.    Jean  Valjean1  is  likewise  a  remarkable 
attempt,   but  he  awakens  sympathy  only  by  his 
terrible  fate  and  the  injustice  of  society  towards  him. 
I  have  not  yet  found  anything  similar  to  that,  any- 
thing so  positive,  and  therefore  I  fear  that  the  book 
may  be  a  "  positive  "  failure.      Single  details  will 
perhaps  come  out  not  badly.     But  I  fear  that  the 
novel  may  be  tiresome.     It  is  to  be  very  extensive. 
The  first  part  I  wrote  in  twenty-three  days,  and  have 
lately  sent  off.     This  first  part  has  no  action  at  all. 
It  is  confessedly  only  a  prologue.     It  is  right  that  it 
should  not  compromise  the  whole  work  in  any  way, 
but  it  illuminates  nothing,  and  poses  no  problem. 
My  sole  aim  is  to  awake  at  least  such  interest  in  the 
reader  as  will  make  him  read  the  second  part.     That 
second  part  I  am  beginning  to-day,  and  shall  finish  in 
a  month.     (I  have  always  worked  as  quickly  as  that.) 
I  believe  that  it  will  be  stronger  and  more  significant 
than  the  first  part.    Well,  dear,  wish  me  luck  !     The 
novel  is  called  "The  Idiot,"  and  is  dedicated  to 
you,  Sofia  Alexandrovna.     My  dear,  I  wish  that  the 
book  may  turn  out  worthy  of  that  dedication.     At 
any  rate,  I  am  not  called  upon  to  judge  my  own 
work,  least  of  all  in  the  excited  state  in  which  I 
now  am. 

My  health  is  most  satisfactory,  and  I  can  bear  well 
1  Hero  of  Hugo's  "  Les  Misdrables." 


JET.  46]  LIFE  IN  GENEVA  137 

even  the  hardest  work;  but  with  regard  to  Anna 
Grigorovna's  condition,  I  am  now  anticipating  a 
difficult  time.  I  shall  work  for  four  months  longer, 
and  hope  then  to  be  able  to  go  to  Italy.  Solitude  is 
essential  to  me  just  now.  Fedya  and  Pasha  make 
me  really  sad.  I  am  writing  to  Fedya  by  this  post. 
Life  abroad  is  on  the  whole  very  troublesome,  and  I 
long  terribly  for  Russia.  Anna  Grigorovna  and  I  live 
quite  solitary  here.  My  life  passes  thus:  I  get  up 
late,  light  the  fire  (it  is  fearfully  cold),  we  drink 
coffee,  and  then  I  go  to  work.  About  four,  I  go  to 
a  restaurant,  where  I  dine  for  two  francs  (with  wine). 
Anna  Grigorovna  prefers  to  dine  at  home.  After 
dinner  I  go  to  a  cafe,  drink  coffee,  and  read  the 
Moskovskoie  Viedomosti  (Moscow  News)  and  the  Golos1 
from  A  to  Z.  For  exercise  I  walk  half-an-hour  in  the 
streets,  and  then  betake  myself  to  home  and  work. 
I  light  the  fire,  we  drink  coffee,  and  I  set  to  again. 
"Anna  Grigorovna  declares  that  she's  immensely  happy. 

Geneva  is  a  dull,  gloomy,  Protestant,  stupid  town 
with  a  frightful  climate,  but  very  well  suited  for 
work. 

I  don't  suppose  I  shall  be  able  to  get  back  to  Russia 
at  all  before  September — alas,  my  dear  !  As  soon  as 
I  do,  I  shall  hasten  to  embrace  you.  I  still  dally 
with  the  thought  of  starting  a  magazine  after  my 
return.  But  of  course  all  depends  upon  the  success 
of  my  present  novel.  Only  think:  I  am  working  so 
furiously,  and  yet  I  don't  know  whether  the  MS.  will 
arrive  in  time  for  the  January  number  or  not.  That 
would  be  very  unpleasant  for  me  ! 

I  embrace  and  kiss  you.  Your  ever  friendly 
inclined 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 

1  Tht  Moscow  Voice,  an  important  paper. 


138  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XL 

XL 

To  his  Stepson,  P.  A.  Issayev 

GENEVA, 
February  19  [March  3],  1868. 

Don't  reproach  me  and  don't  be  angry  with  me, 
my  ever  dear  Pasha,  because  I  send  Emilie  Fyodor- 
ovna1  a  hundred  roubles,  and  you  only  fifty.  You 
are  alone,  my  dear  boy,  and  she  is  not  alone.  And 
you  wrote  yourself,  indeed,  that  she  needed  as  much 
as  that.  And  then,  she  has  to  support  her  Fedya; 
he  is  at  work,  and  I  wish  him  luck.  I  love  him 
dearly.  I  would  willingly  give  all  I  have,  but  I  have 
nothing.  I  must  tell  you  that  it  is  a  great  joy  to  me 
that  you  have  taken  that  place,  and  begun  to  work. 
I  respect  you  very  much  for  it,  Pasha.  It  was 
noble  of  you;  the  position  is  not  distinguished,  but 
you  are  still  young,  and  can  wait.  But  remember 
that  you  can  always  count  on  me.  So  long  as  I  live, 
I  shall  regard  you  as  my  dear  son.  I  swore  to  your 
mother,  the  night  before  she  died,  that  I  would  never 
forsake  you.  When  you  were  still  a  little  child,  I 
used  to  call  you  my  son.  How  could  I,  then,  forsake 
you  and  forget  you  ?  When  I  married  again,  you 
threw  out  hints  that  your  position  would  now  be  a 
different  one;  I  never  answered  them,  because  the 
idea  wounded  me  deeply;  I  may  confess  that  to  you 
now.  Know  once  for  all  that  you  will  always  be  my 
son,  my  eldest  son ;  and  not  duty  bids  me  say  so,  but 
my  heart.  If  I  have  often  scolded  you,  and  been 
cross  to  you,  that  was  only  my  evil  disposition;  I 
love  you  as  I  have  seldom  loved  anyone.  When 
I  come  back  to  Petersburg  some  day,  I  shall  do  all  I 

1  His  brother  Michael's  widow. 


JET.  46]  HIS  STEPSON  139 

can  to  find  you  a  better  place;  I  will  also  help  you 
with  money  as  long  as  I  live,  and  have  anything  at 
all  of  my  own.  Your  saying  that  you  don't  feel  well 
has  alarmed  me  much.  Write  to  me  directly  you 
receive  this,  if  only  a  few  lines.  Send  the  letter 
unstamped;  you  must  not  have  any  unnecessary 
expenses.  My  address  is  still  the  same.  I  set  all 
my  hopes  on  the  new  novel.  If  it  succeeds,  I  shall 
sell  the  second  edition,  pay  my  debts,  and  return  to 
Russia.  I  may  also  get  an  advance  from  the  paper. 
But  I  fear  that  the  novel  will  miss  fire.  I  greatly 

like  the  idea,  but  the  execution !    The  novel  is 

called  "  The  Idiot  ";  the  first  part  has  already  been 
printed  in  the  Roussky  Viestnik.  Perhaps  you've  read 
it  ?  The  great  thing  is  that  it  should  come  off — then 
all  will  be  well.  I  work  day  and  night;  our  life  is 
monotonous.  Geneva  is  a  terribly  dull  town.  I 
froze  through  the  whole  winter;  but  now  we  are 
having  real  spring  weather.  Ten  degrees  above — 
Reaumur.  My  health  is  neither  good  nor  bad.  I 
suffer  from  incessant  poverty.  We  live  on  a  few 
groschen,  and  have  pawned  everything.  Anna  Gri- 
gorovna  may  be  confined  at  any  moment.  I  expect 
it  to  happen  to-night.  I  am  in  great  anxiety,  but 
must  work  uninterruptedly.  Judge  for  yourself 
whether  I  can  answer  all  your  letters  punctually. 
Tell  me  fully  about  yourself.  Take  care  of  your 
health. 

XLI 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

GENEVA, 

May  1 8  [30],  1868. 

I  thank  you  for  your  letter,   my  dear  Apollon 
Nikolayevitch,  and  for  not  being  angry  with  me  and 


140  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XLI 

so  breaking  off  our  correspondence.  I  was  always 
convinced,  in  the  depths  of  my  soul,  that  Apollon 
Nikolayevitch  would  never  do  such  a  thing  as  that. 

My  Sonia  is  dead;  we  buried  her  three  days  ago. 
Two  hours  before  her  death,  I  did  not  know  that  she 
was  to  die.  The  doctor  told  us,  three  hours  before 
she  died,  that  things  were  going  better  and  she  would 
live.  She  was  only  a  week  ill;  she  died  of  inflam- 
mation of  the  lungs. 

Ah,  my  dear  Apollon  Nikolayevitch,  my  love  for 
my  first  child  was  probably  most  comical;  I  daresay 
I  expressed  it  most  comically  in  my  letters  to  all  who 
congratulated  me.  I  have  doubtless  been  ridiculous 
in  everybody's  eyes,  but  to  you,  to  you,  I  am  not 
ashamed  to  say  anything.  The  poor  little  darling 
creature,  scarcely  three  months  old,  had  already,  for 
me,  individuality  and  character.  She  was  just  be- 
ginning to  know  and  love  me,  and  always  smiled  when 
I  came  near.  And  now  they  tell  me,  to  console  me, 
that  I  shall  surely  have  other  children.  But  where 
is  Sonia  ?  where  is  the  little  creature  for  whom  I 
would,  believe  me,  gladly  have  suffered  death  upon 
the  cross,  if  she  could  have  remained  alive  ?  I'll 
speak  of  it  no  more.  My  wife  is  crying.  The  day 
after  to-morrow  we  shall  say  our  last  good-bye  to 
the  little  grave,  and  go  away  somewhere.  Anna 
Nikolayevna1  is  staying  with  us ;  she  arrived  here 
only  a  week  before  the  little  one  died. 

For  the  last  fortnight,  since  Sonia's  illness,  I  have 
not  been  able  to  work.  I  have  written  a  letter  of 
apology  to  Katkov,  and  in  the  May  number  of  the 
Roussky  Viestnik,  again  only  three  chapters  can  ap- 
pear. But  I  hope  from  now  to  be  able  to  work  day 
and  night,  so  that  from  the  June  number  onward  the 
novel  will  appear  with  some  degree  of  regularity. 
1  His  wife's  mother. 


JST.  46]  SONIA'S  MEMORY  141 

£  thank  you  for  consenting  to  be  godfather  to  the 
little  one.  She  was  baptized  a  week  before  her 
death.  .  .  . 

[The  second  half  of  the  letter  is  on  business  only.] 

XLII 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

VEVEY, 
June  10  [22],  1868. 

MY  DEAR  FRIEND  APOLLON  NIKOLAYEVITCH, 

I  know  and  believe  that  your  sympathy  is  real 
and  true.  But  I  have  never  yet  been  so  profoundly 
unhappy  as  of  late.  I  don't  intend  to  describe  my 
state  to  you,  but  the  more  time  goes  by,  the  more 
painful  does  remembrance  become,  and  the  more 
clearly  does  my  dead  Sonia's  image  stand  before  me. 
There  are  moments  in  which  I  can  hardly  bear  it. 
She  already  knew  me;  when  I  was  leaving  the  house 
on  the  day  she  died,  just  to  read  the  papers,  and 
without  the  least  idea  that  she  would  be  dead  in  two 
hours,  she  followed  so  attentively  all  my  movements, 
and  looked  at  me  with  such  eyes  that  even  at  this 
moment  I  can  see  them,  and  the  memory  grows 
livelier  every  day.  I  shall  never  forget  her ;  my  grief 
will  never  come  to  an  end.  And  if  I  ever  should 
have  another  child,  I  don't  know,  truly,  how  I  shall  be 
able  to  love  it — I  don't  know  where  the  love  could 
come  from.  I  want  only  Sonia.  I  can't  realize  in 
the  least  that  she  is  no  more,  and  that  I  am  never  to 
see  her  again.  .  .  . 

[He  speaks  of  his  wife's  condition  and  of  business 
matters.] 

I  have  grown  quite  stupid  from  sheer  hard  work, 
and  my  head  feels  as  if  it  were  in  pieces.    I  await 


142  DOSTOEVSKI'S  LETTERS  [XLII 

your  letters  always  as  one  awaits  Heaven.  What  is 
there  more  precious  than  a  voice  from  Russia,  the 
voice  of  my  friend  ?  I  have  nothing  to  tell  you,  no 
news  of  any  kind,  I  get  duller  and  stupider  every 
day  that  I'm  here,  and  yet  I  daren't  do  anything  until 
the  novel's  finished.  Then,  however,  I  intend  in  any 
event  to  go  back  to  Russia.  To  get  the  book  done, 
I  must  sit  at  my  desk  for  at  least  eight  hours  daily. 
I  have  now  half  worked  off  my  debt  to  Katkov.  I 
shall  work  off  the  rest.  Write  to  me,  my  friend — 
write,  for  Christ's  sake.  .  .  . 

In  the  four  chapters  that  you  will  read  in  the  June 
number  (perhaps  there  may  be  only  three,  for  the 
fourth  probably  arrived  too  late),  I  have  depicted 
some  types  of  the  modern  Positivist  among  the  highly 
"  extreme  "  young  men.  I  know  that  I  have  presented 
them  truthfully  (for  I  understand  the  gentry  from 
experience;  no  one  but  me  has  thus  studied  and 
observed  them),  and  I  know  too  that  everyone  will 
abuse  me  and  say:  "  Nonsensical,  naive,  stupid,  and 
false." 

XLIII 
To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

MILAN, 
October  7  [19],  1868. 

Above  all,  I  must  declare  that  I  never  have  been 
in  the  least  degree  offended  with  you,  and  I  say  it 
sincerely  and  honestly;  on  the  contrary — I  supposed 
that  you  were  angry  with  me  for  some  reason  or 
another.  In  the  first  place,  you  had  ceased  to  write 
to  me;  though  every  one  of  your  letters  is  to  me, 
here,  a  great  event — a  breath  from  Russia,  a  real 
festival.  But  how  could  you  ever  have  thought  that 


F.    M.    DOSTOKVSKY. 


£T.  47]        QUANTITY  AND  QUALITY  143 

I  considered  myself  offended  by  anything  you  may 
have  written  ?  No;  my  heart  is  not  like  that.  And 
moreover,  think  of  this:  twenty-two  years  ago  (it 
was  at  Bielinsky's,  do  you  remember  ?)  I  made  your 
acquaintance.  Since  then  life  has  properly  rattled 
me  about,  and  sometimes  "given  me  amazing  surprises; 
and  in  short  and  in  fine  I  have  at  the  present  moment 
no  one  but  you:  you  are  the  only  man  on  whose 
heart  and  disposition  I  rely,  whom  I  love,  and  whose 
thoughts  and  convictions  I  share.  How  then  should 
I  not  love  you,  almost  as  much  as  I  loved  my  brother 
who  is  dead  ?  Your  letters  have  always  rejoiced  and 
encouraged  me,  for  I  was  in  dejected  mood.  My 
work,  more  than  anything  else,  has  frightfully  weak- 
ened and  broken  me.  For  almost  a  year  now  I  have 
written  three  and  a  half  printed  sheets  every  month. 
That  is  very  stiff.  Also  I  miss  the  Russian  way  of 
life;  its  impressions  were  always  essential  to  my 
work.  Finally,  though  you  praise  the  idea  of  my 
novel,  the  execution  has  not  hitherto  been  distin- 
guished. I  am  chiefly  distressed  by  the  thought 
that  if  I  had  got  the  novel  written  in  a  year,  and 
then  had  had  two  or  three  months  to  devote  to  re- 
writing and  re-touching,  it  would  have  been  quite  a 
different  thing;  I  can  answer  for  it.  Now,  when  I 
can  take  a  bird's-eye  view,  as  it  were,  of  the  whole, 
I  see  that  very  clearly.  .  .  . 

I  have  become  totally  alienated  from  your  way  of 
life,  though  my  whole  heart  is  with  you ;  that  is  why 
your  letters  are  like  heavenly  manna  to  me.  The 
tidings  of  the  new  paper1  greatly  rejoiced  me.  .  .  . 
What  more  can  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch2  now  desire  ? 
The  chief  point  is  that  he  should  be  absolute  master 
of  the  paper.  It  is  very  desirable  that  it  be  edited 

1  The  allusion  is  to  Sarya  (Morning  Red) . 
*  Strachov. 


144  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [XLIII 

in  the  Russian  spirit,  as  we  both  conceive  it,  if  it 
is  not  to  become  purely  Slavophil.  I  hold,  my  friend, 
that  it  is  no  part  of  our  duty  to  woo  the  Slavs  too 
ardently.  They  must  come  to  us  of  their  own  accord. 
After  the  Pan-Slavist  Congress  at  Moscow,  some 
individual  Slavs  made  insolent  mock  of  the  Russians, 
because  they  had  taken  on  themselves  to  lead  others, 
and  even  aspired  to  dominate  them,  while  they 
themselves  had  so  little  national  consciousness,  and 
so  on.  Believe  me:  many  Slavs,  for  instance  those 
in  Prague,  judge  us  from  a  frankly  Western,  from  a 
French  or  German,  point  of  view;  I  daresay  they 
wonder  that  our  Slavophils  trouble  themselves  so 
little  about  the  generally  accepted  formulas  of  West- 
European  civilization.  Thus  we  have  no  motive  at 
all  for  running  after  them  and  paying  court.  It  is  a 
different  thing  for  us  merely  to  study  them;  we 
could  then  help  them  in  time  of  need ;  but  we  should 
not  pursue  them  with  fraternal  sentiment,  although 
we  must  very  assuredly  regard  them  as  brothers  and 
treat  them  so.  I  hope  too  that  Strachov  will  give 
the  paper  a  definite  political  tone,  to  say  nothing  at 
all  of  national  consciousness.  National  consciousness 
is  our  weak  spot;  it  lacks  more  than  anything  else. 
In  every  case,  Strachov  will  make  a  brilliant  thing 
of  it,  and  I  look  forward  to  the  great  delight  that  his 
articles  will  afford  me ;  I  have  read  nothing  of  his 
since  the  failure  of  the  Epoch,  ... 

The  book  about  which  you  write  I  had  shortly 
before  read,1  and  I  must  confess  that  it  enraged  me 
terribly.  I  can  imagine  nothing  more  impudent. 
Of  course  one  should  spit  upon  such  stuff,  and  so  I 
was  ready  to  do  at  first.  But  I  am  oppressed  by  the 

1  He  is  speaking  of  the  novel  "  Les  Secrets  du  Palais  des 
Tsars,"  which  deals  with  the  Court  of  Nicholas  I.  In  this 
book  Dostoevsky  and  his  wife  appear. 


XT.  47]  IN  ARREARS  145 

thought  that  if  I  don't  protest  against  it,  I  shall  thus 
seem,  as  it  were,  to  acknowledge  the  vile  fabrication. 
Only,  where  is  one  to  protest  ?  In  the  Nord  ?  But 
I  can't  write  French  well,  and  I  should  like  to  proceed 
with  all  tact.  I  have  an  idea  of  going  to  Florence, 
and  there  getting  advice  from  the  Russian  Consulate. 
Of  course  that  is  not  the  only  reason  why  I  wish  to 
go  to  Florence.  .  .  . 


XLIV 

To  Ms  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

MILAN, 
October  26  [November  7],  1868. 

MY  DEAR  GOOD  FRIEND  SONETCHKA, 

It  is  a  very  long  time  since  I  have  written  to 
you.  I  can  say  only  one  thing  in  excuse :  I  am  still 
busy  with  my  novel.  Believe  me,  dear,  I  literally 
toil  day  and  night;  if  I  am  not  precisely  writing,  I 
am  walking  up  and  down  the  room,  smoking  and 
thinking  of  my  work.  I  can  scarcely  myself  believe 
that  I  can't  find  a  free  hour  in  which  to  write  to  you. 
But  it  really  is  so.  Of  myself  and  my  life  I  can  give 
you  the  following  information:  I  live  on  the  best  of 
friendly  terms  with  my  wife.  She  is  patient,  and 
my  interests  are  more  important  to  her  than  aught 
else;  but  I  see  that  she  is  pining  for  her  friends 
and  relations  in  Russia.  This  often  grieves  me,  but 
my  position  is  still  so  perplexed  that  for  the  next 
few  months  we  dare  not  make  any  plans  at  all. 
My  affairs  have  turned  out  sadly  worse  than  I  had 
calculated. 

In  two  months,  you  see,  the  year  will  be  at  an  end, 
but  of  the  four  parts  of  my  novel  only  three  are 
finished;  the  fourth  anO  longest  I  have  not  even 

10 


146  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XLIV 

begun.  And  as  it  is  quite  impossible  (working  un- 
interruptedly through  the  whole  year)  to  write  more 
than  three  and  a  half  sheets  a  month  (I  say  this  from 
actual  experience),  I  shall  be  in  arrears  by  six  sheets 
— that  is,  the  end  of  the  novel  cannot  appear  in  the 
December  number  of  the  Roussky  Viestnik.  This 
puts  me  in  a  most  awkward  and  painful  position;  in 
the  first  place,  I  cause  the  staff  much  inconvenience, 
and  even  loss,  for  they  will  have  to  give  their  sub- 
scribers the  conclusion  of  the  novel  as  a  supplement 
(which,  quite  apart  from  anything  else,  is  attended 
with  great  expense);  in  the  second  place,  I  myself 
lose  thereby  900  roubles,  for  I  proposed  to  the  staff 
that  I  should  indemnify  them  by  claiming  no  fee  for 
the  six  sheets  by  which  I  am  in  arrears.  Finally,  this 
fourth  part,  and  particularly  its  conclusion,  are  the 
most  important  things  in  the  whole  book,  which  was, 
strictly  speaking,  conceived  and  written  for  its  con- 
clusion alone. 

Of  our  personal  life  I'll  tell  you  as  follows.  After 
we  had  buried  Sonia  in  Geneva,  we  went,  as  you 
already  know,  to  Vevey.  Anna  Grigorovna's  mother 
came  to  her,  and  stayed  with  us  a  long  time.  In 
tiny,  picturesque  Vevey  we  lived  like  hermits,  our 
only  pastime  being  many  mountain-walks.  Of  the 
beauty  of  the  scenery  I'll  say  nothing  at  all;  it's  like 
a  dream;  yet  Vevey  is  most  enervating:  all  the 
doctors  in  the  world  know  this,  but  I  did  not. 

I  suffered  much  from  epileptic  and  other  nervous 
attacks.  My  wife  was  ill  too.  So  we  crossed  the 
Simplon  (the  most  ardent  imagination  could  not 
depict  the  beauty  of  the  Simplon  Pass)  into  Italy, 
and  settled  down  in  Milan;  our  means  prevented 
us  from  going  farther.  (During  the  last  year  and  a 
half  I  have  had  so  many  advances  from  the  Roussky 
Viestnik  that  I  must  now  work  at  full  pressure  to 


JET.  47]  HOMESICK  147 

get  matters  square;  indeed,  they  still  send  me  regu- 
larly comparatively  large  sums,  yet  I  often  ^find  it 
very  difficult  to  manage;  and  for  a  long  time  I've 
sent  nothing  to  Petersburg,  either  to  Pasha  or  Emilie 
Fyodorovna,  which  greatly  troubles  me.) 

In  Milan  it  certainly  rains  a  good  deal,  but  the 
climate  suits  me  extraordinarily  well.  Yet  it  is  said 
that  fits  are  highly  prevalent  at  Milan;  perhaps  I 
shall  be  spared  one,  nevertheless.  Living  in  Milan 
is  very  expensive.  It  is  a  big,  important  town,  but 
not  very  picturesque,  and  somewhat  un-Italian.  In 
the  neighbourhood,  that  is,  half-an-hour's  railway 
journey  from  Milan,  lies  the  exquisite  Lake  of  Como, 
but  I  have  not  yet  been  there  this  time.  The  only 
"  sight  "  in  the  town  is  the  famous  Duomo;  it  is  of 
marble,  gigantic,  Gothic,  filigree-like,  fantastic  as  a 
dream.  Its  interior  is  amazingly  fine.  At  the  end 
of  November,  I  mean  to  move  to  Florence,  for  there 
are  Russian  papers  there,  and  perhaps  living  may  be 
cheaper.  On  the  way  I  shall  make  a  detour  to  Venice 
(so  as  to  show  it  to  my  wife),  which  will  cost  me  about 
a  hundred  francs. 

Now  I  have  given  you  in  few  words  a  full  account 
of  myself.  I  am  very  heavy-hearted;  homesick,  and 
uncertain  of  my  position;  my  debts,  etc.,  deject  me 
terribly.  And  besides  I  have  been  so  alienated  from 
Russian  life  that  I  find  it  difficult,  lacking  fresh 
Russian  impressions  as  I  do,  to  write  anything  at  all : 
only  think — for  six  months  I  haven't  seen  a  single 
Russian  newspaper.  And  I  still  have  the  fourth  part 
of  my  novel  to  do,  and  it  will  take  about  four  months 
more.  Enough  of  me.  Write  fully  of  all  your 
affairs,  of  your  external  circumstances,  and  of  your 
state  of  mind.  Embrace  your  Mama  from  me;  I 
often  think  of  her,  and  pray  for  her  every  day.  I 
frequently  recall  our  past  days  together.  Kiss  your 


I4«  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        '  [XLIV 

Missenika   for   me.    Tell   me    your   right    address. 
Write  to  me  at  Milan,  poste  restante. 

Even  if  I  should  have  left  Milan,  and  be  in  Florence 
or  Venice  (which  is  recommended  me  for  the  winter), 
I  shall  get  your  letters  addressed  to  Milan ;  before  my 
departure  I  shall  give  my  new  address  to  the  post- 
office  here.  As  soon  as  I  go  to  another  town,  I'll 
let  you  know  without  delay.  My  wife  sends  greeting 
and  kisses.  We  both  long  for  our  home.  I  have 
been  told  that  after  New  Year,  a  new  journal  is  to 
appear  in  Petersburg.  The  publisher  is  Kachpirev; 
the  editor — my  friend  Strachov.  They  have  asked  me 
to  contribute.  The  undertaking  seems  to  be  quite 
serious  and  very  promising.  Maikov  writes  of  it 
in  great  delight. 

Do  read,  in  the  September  number  of  the  Roussky 
Viestnik,  the  article  on  the  British  Association. 

I  kiss  and  embrace  you,  I  press  you  to  my  heart. 
Your  friend  and  brother, 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY 


XLV 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

FLORENCE, 
December  n  [23],  1868. 

I  have  had  a  letter  from  Strachov  too;  he  tells  me 
a  lot  of  literary  news.  Particularly  do  I  rejoice  to 
hear  of  Danilevsky's  article,  "Europe  and  Russia,"1 

1  The  articles  by  Danilevsky,  which  appeared  in  Sarya, 
were  afterwards  collected  under  the  title  of  "  Russia  and 
Europe."  Danilevsky  aimed  at  giving  a  scientific  basis 
to  the  Slavophil  Utopias,  and  taught,  among  other  things, 
that  Russia  must  place  herself  at  the  head  of  a  Pan-Slavist 
Federation,  whose  centre  should  be  in  Constantinople,  un- 
conquered  yet,  but  to  be  conquered. 


JST.  47]  PROJECTS  149 

which  Strachov  says  is  splendid.  I  must  confess  that 
I  have  heard  nothing  of  Danilevsky  since  the  year 
1849,  though  I've  often  thought  of  him.  What  a 
frenzied  Fourierist  he  was  at  one  time;  and  now 
that  same  Fourierist  has  turned  himself  back  into 
a  Russian  who  loves  his  native  soil  and  customs  ! 
Thus  may  one  know  the  people  who  really  matter  \ .  . . 
But,  on  the  other  hand,  I'll  never  agree  with  the 
view  of  the  dead  Apollon  Grigoryev,  that  Bielinsky 
also  would  have  ended  by  becoming  a  Slavophil. 
No;  with  Bielinsky  that  was  quite  out  of  the 
question.  He  was,  in  his  day,  a  remarkable  writer, 
but  could  not  possibly  have  developed  any  further. 
Rather,  he  would  have  ended  as  adjutant  to  some 
leader  of  the  Women's  Rights  movement  over  here, 
and  have  forgotten  his  Russian  while  learning  no 
German.  Do  you  know  what  the  new  Russians  are 
like  ?  Well,  for  example,  look  at  the  moujik,  the 
"  sectarian  "  of  the  time  of  Paul  the  Prussian,1  about 
whom  there's  an  article  in  the  June  number  of  the 
Roussky  Viestnik.  If  he's  not  precisely  typical  of  the 
coming  Russian,  he  is  undoubtedly  one  of  the  Russians 
of  the  future. 

***** 

Those  cursed  creditors  will  kill  me  to  a  certainty. 
It  was  stupid  of  me  to  run  away  to  foreign  lands; 
assuredly  'twere  better  to  have  stayed  at  home  and 
let  myself  be  put  in  the  debtor's  prison.  If  I  could 
only  treat  with  them  from  here  !  But  that  can't  be, 
for  my  personal  presence  is  indispensable.  I  speak  of 
this,  because  at  the  moment  I  am  meditating  two  and 
even  three  publishing  ventures  which  will  demand  the 
labour  of  an  ox  to  carry  out,  but  must  inevitably 
br  ing  in  money.  I  have  often  had  luck  with  similar 
projects. 
1  Paul  I.,  so  called  because  of  his  love  for  all  things  German. 


150  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XLV 

Now  here's  what  I  propose : 

i.  A  long  novel  entitled  "  Atheism  "  (but  for  God's 
sake,  let  this  be  entirely  between  ourselves) ;  before 
I    attack  it,  I  shall  have  to  read  a  whole   library 
of  atheistic  works  by  Catholic  and  Orthodox-Greek 
writers.     Even  in  the  most  favourable  circumstances 
it  can't  be  ready  for  two  years.     I  have  my  principal 
figure  ready  in  my  mind.     A  Russian  of  our  class, 
getting  on  in  years,  not  particularly  cultured,  though 
not  uncultured  either,  and  of  a  certain  degree  of  social 
importance,  loses  quite  suddenly,  in  ripe  age,  his  belief 
in  God.     His  whole  life  long  he  has  been   wholly 
taken  up  by  his  work,  has  never  dreamed  of  escaping 
from  the  rut,  and  up  to  his  forty-fifth  year,  has  distin- 
guished himself  in  no  wise.     (The  working-out  will 
be  pure  psychology:   profound  in  feeling,   human, 
and  thoroughly  Russian.)     The  loss  of  faith  has  a 
colossal  effect  on  him  (the  treatment  of  the  story, 
and  the  environment,  are  both  largely  conceived). 
He  tries  to  attach  himself  to  the  younger  generation 
— the   atheists,    Slavs,    Occidentalists,    the   Russian 
Sectarians   and   Anchorites,    the   mystics:    amongst 
others  he  comes  across  a  Polish  Jesuit;  thence  he 
descends  to  the  abysses  of  the  Chlysty-sect;1  and 
finds  at  last  salvation  in  Russian  soil,  the  Russian 
Saviour,  and  the  Russian  God.     (For  heaven's  sake, 
don't  speak  of  this  to  anyone;  when  I  have  written 
this  last  novel,  I  shall  be  ready  to  die,  for  I  shall  have 
uttered  therein  my  whole  heart's  burden.)     My  dear 
friend,  I  have  a  totally  different  conception  of  truth 
and  realism  from  that  of  our  "  realists  "  and  critics. 
My  God  !     If  one  could  but  tell  categorically  all  that 
we  Russians  have  gone  through  during  the  last  ten 
years  in  the  way  of  spiritual  development,  all  the 
realists  would  shriek  that  it  was  pure  fantasy  !     And 
1  A  flagellant  sect  still  widely  spread  over  Russia. 


JET.  47]  THE  "  REALISTS "  151 

yet  it  would  be  pure  realism  !  It  is  the  one  true, 
deep  realism ;  theirs  is  altogether  too  superficial.  Is 
not  the  figure  of  Lyubim  Torzov,1  for  instance,  at 
bottom  hideously  unmeaning  ?  Yet  it's  the  boldest 
thing  they've  produced.  And  they  call  that  pro- 
found realism  !  With  such  realism,  one  couldn't 
show  so  much  as  the  hundredth  part  of  the  true  facts. 
But  our  idealists  have  actually  predicted  many  of  the 
actual  facts — really,  that  has  been  done.  My  dear 
fellow,  don't  laugh  at  my  conceit;  for  I'm  like  Paul: 
"  Nobody  praises  me,  so  I'll  praise  myself." 

In  the  meantime  I've  got  to  live  somehow.  I  don't 
mean  to  hurry  my  "  Atheism  "  on  to  the  market 
(I  have  such  lots  to  say  therein  about  Catholicism 
and  Jesuitry,  as  compared  with  Orthodoxy).  More- 
over, I  have  an  idea  for  a  tolerably  lengthy  novel  of 
about  twelve  sheets ;  it  strikes  me  as  most  attractive. 
And  I've  another  plan  besides.  Which  shall  I  decide 
on,  and  to  whom  shall  I  offer  my  work  ?  To  the 
Sarya  ?  But  I  always  demand  payment  in  advance  ; 
and  perhaps  on  the  Sarya  they  won't  agree  to  that  ? 

[Here  follow  some  purely  business  details.] 

XLVI 

To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

FLORENCE, 
January  25  [February  6],  1869. 

MY  DEAR,  GOOD,  AND  VALUED  FRIEND  SONETCHKA, 

I  did  not  at  once  answer  your  last  letter 
(undated),  and  nearly  died  of  conscience  pangs 
therefor,  because  I  love  you  very  much.  But  it  was 
not  my  fault,  and  it  shall  be  different  in  future. 

1  Hero  of  a  drama  by  Ostrovsky 


152  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XLVI 

Regularity  in  our  correspondence  henceforth  depends 
wholly  on  you ;  I  shall  from  now  onward  answer  each 
of  your  letters  the  same  day  I  receive  it ;  but  as  every 
letter  from  Russia  is  now  an  event  to  me,  and  deeply 
moves  me  (yours  always  in  the  most  delightful  sense), 
do  write,  if  you  love  me,  as  often  as  you  possibly  can. 
I  have  not  answered  you  for  so  long,  because  I  put 
off  all  business  and  even  the  most  important  letters 
until  I  had  finished  the  novel.  Now  it  is  done  at  last. 
I  worked  at  the  concluding  chapters  by  day  and  by 
night,  in  the  deepest  anxiety  and  amid  great  torment 
of  mind.  A  month  ago  I  wrote  to  the  Roussky 
Viestnik,  asking  them  to  postpone  the  appearance  of 
the  December  number  for  a  little  while,  and  so  make 
it  possible  for  me  to  bring  out  the  conclusion  of  my 
book  this  year.  I  swore  that  I  would  deliver  the  last 
lines  by  the  I5th  of  January  (by  our  Style).  But 
what  happened  ?  I  had  two  attacks,  and  therefore 
was  obliged  to  overstep  by  ten  days  the  term  which 
I  had  myself  fixed.  They  can  only  to-day  (January  25) 
have  received  the  two  last  chapters.  You  can  easily 
imagine  how  much  perturbed  I  have  been  by  the 
thought  that  they  might  lose  patience,  and,  as  they 
had  not  received  the  end  by  the  I5th,  might  let  the 
number  appear  without  the  novel !  That  would  be 
terrible  for  me.  In  any  case,  they  must  be  infuriated ; 
I  was  in  dire  need  and  had  to  write  to  Katkov  for 
money. 

The  climate  of  Florence  is  perhaps  even  more 
unfavourable  to  my  health  than  that  of  Milan  or 
Vevey;  the  epileptic  attacks  return  more  frequently. 
Two,  with  an  interval  of  six  days,  have  brought  about 
this  delay  of  ten  days.  Besides,  it  rains  too  much  in 
Florence;  though  in  fine  weather  it  is  real  Paradise 
here.  One  can  imagine  nothing  lovelier  than  this 
sky,  this  air,  and  this  light.  For  a  fortnight  it  was 


MT.  47]    WORSE  THAN  DEPORTATION        153 

somewhat  cool,  and  as  the  houses  here  are  poorly 
equipped,  we  froze  during  that  fortnight  like  mice  in 
a  cellar.  But  now  I  have  my  work  behind  me,  and 
am  free;  this  work,  which  took  a  year,  carried  me 
away  so  completely  that  I  have  not  yet  been  able  to 
collect  my  thoughts.  The  future  is  to  me  an  enigma; 
I  don't  even  yet  know  what  I  shall  decide  to  do. 
However,  I  shall  have  to  make  up  my  mind  to  some- 
thing. In  three  months,  we  shall  have  been  exactly 
two  years  abroad.  In  my  opinion,  it  is  worse  than 
deportation  to  Siberia.  I  mean  that  quite  seriously; 
I'm  not  exaggerating.  I  cannot  understand  the 
Russians  abroad.  Even  though  there  is  a  wonderful 
sky  here,  and  though  there  are — as,  for  example, 
in  Florence — literally  unimaginable  and  incredible 
marvels  of  art,  there  are  lacking  many  advantages 
which  even  in  Siberia,  as  soon  as  I  left  the  prison, 
made  themselves  evident  to  me:  I  mean,  especially, 
home  and  the  Russians,  without  which  and  whom 
I  cannot  live.  Perhaps  you  may  experience  this 
yourself  one  day,  and  then  you'll  see  that  I  don't 
exaggerate  in  the  least.  And  yet  my  immediate 
future  is  still  hidden  from  me.  My  original  positive 
plan  has  for  the  moment  broken  down.  (I  say 
positive,  but  naturally  all  my  plans,  like  those  of  any 
man  who  possesses  no  capital  and  lives  only  by  his 
own  toil,  are  associated  with  risks,  and  dependent  on 
many  attendant  circumstances.)  I  hope  that  I  shall 
succeed  in  bettering  my  finances  by  the  second  edition 
of  the  novel,  and  then  returning  to  Russia;  but  I'm 
dissatisfied  with  the  book,  for  I  haven't  said  a  tenth 
part  of  what  I  wanted  to  say.  Nevertheless,  I  don't 
repudiate  it,  and  to  this  day  I  love  the  plan  that 
miscarried. 

But  in  fact  the  book  is  not  showy  enough  for  the 
public  taste ;  the  second  edition  will  therefore,  even 


154  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XLVI 

If  it  comes  off  at  all,  bring  in  so  little  that  I  can't 
reckon  on  it  for  any  new  arrangements.  While  I'm 
here  in  this  foreign  land,  besides,  I  know  nothing  of 
what  reception  the  book  had  in  Russia.  Just  at  first 
I  was  sent  some  cuttings,  full  of  ecstatic  praise.  But 
lately — never  a  word.  The  worst  of  it  is  that  I  don't 
know  anything,  either,  about  the  views  of  the  Roussky 
Viestnik  people.  Whenever  I've  asked  them  for 
money,  they've  sent  it  by  return  of  post,  from  which  I 
am  inclined  to  draw  a  favourable  conclusion.  But  I 
may  be  mistaken.  Now  Maikov  and  Strachov  write 
from  Petersburg  that  a  new  journal,  Sarya,  has  been 
started,  with  Strachov  as  editor;  they  sent  me  the 
first  number,  and  begged  for  my  collaboration.  I 
promised  it,  but  am  hindered  by  my  long  connection 
with  the  Roussky  Viestnik  (it  is  always  better  to  stay 
with  the  same  paper),  and  by  the  fact  that  Katkov 
gave  me  an  advance  of  3,000  roubles  before  I  came 
abroad.  And  I  owe  the  editorial  staff  a  good  deal 
besides,  for  (together  with  the  first  three  thousand) 
I  have  gradually  borrowed  in  all  about  seven  thousand 
roubles ;  so  that  on  that  ground  alone  I  can  at  present 
work  for  no  other  paper  but  the  Roussky  Viestnik. 

On  their  answer  to  my  request  for  more  money  all 
now  depends.  But  even  if  they  answer  favourably, 
my  position  will  remain  most  uncertain.  I  must  at 
all  costs  get  back  to  Russia;  for  here  I  am  losing  all 
power  to  write,  not  having  the,  to  me,  essential 
material  at  hand, — that  is  to  say,  Russian  actualities 
(from  which  I  draw  my  ideas)  and  Russian  people. 
Every  moment  I  am  obliged  to  look  up  something, 
or  make  inquiries  about  something,  and  know  not 
where  to  turn  for  it.  I  am  now  dallying  with  the 
idea  of  a  gigantic  novel,  which  in  any  event,  even 
should  it  miscarry  with  me,  must  be  very  effective  by 
reason  of  its  theme  alone.  That  theme  is — Atheism 


XT.  47]  A  GIGANTIC  IDEA  155 

(it  is  not  an  indictment  of  the  now  prevalent  con- 
victions, but  something  quite  different:  a  real  story). 
What  it  has  to  do  is  to  take  the  reader  captive  even 
against  his  will.  Of  course  I  shall  have  to  study  hard 
for  it.  Two  or  three  important  characters  I  have 
already  got  into  extraordinary  perspective,  among 
others  a  Catholic  enthusiast  and  priest  (something 
like  St.  Francois  Xavier).  But  I  can't  possibly  write 
it  here.  I  should  most  assuredly  be  able  to  sell  the 
second  edition  of  this  work,  and  make  much  money 
thereby ;  but  when  ?  Not  before  two  years.  (Don't 
tell  anyone  about  this  idea.)  In  the  meantime  I  must 
write  something  else,  for  daily  bread.  All  this  is 
most  depressing.  Some  change  must  absolutely  take 
place  in  my  situation ;  but  from  what  quarter  is  it  to 
arrive  ? 

You  are  right,  my  dear,  when  you  say  that  I  should 
be  able  to  make  money  much  more  easily  and  quickly 
in  Russia.  And  as  a  matter  of  fact  I  am  now  medi- 
tating two  ideas  for  publications :  one  would  demand 
much  work  and  would  entirely  preclude  all  idea  of 
simultaneous  occupation  with  a  novel,  but  might 
bring  in  much  money  (of  that  I  have  no  doubt). 
The  other  is  pure  compilation  and  almost  mechanical  ; 
it  is  an  idea  for  an  a«««a/(y-appearing  large  and  uni- 
versally useful  volume  of  about  sixty  sheets  of  small 
print,  which  would  be  widely  bought  and  would  come 
out  every  January;  this  idea  I  won't  as  yet  disclose, 
for  it  is  too  "  safe  "  and  too  valuable;  the  profits  are 
beyond  doubt;  my  work  would  be  purely  editorial.1 
All  the  same  it  would  require  some  ideas,  and  much 
special  knowledge.  And  this  work  would  not  prevent 
me  from  doing  a  novel  at  the  same  time.  I  shall 
need  collaborators  therein,  and  shall  think  of  you 
first  of  all  (I  shall  need  translators  too),  and  of  course 

i  This  is  his  plan  for  "  The  Diary  of  a  Writer." 


156  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [XLVI 

on  the  understanding  that  profits  shall  be  shared  in 
proportion  to  the  work  done ;  you  will  earn  ten  times 
as  much  as  you  now  get  for  your  work. 

I  can  say  without  boasting  that  I've  already  in 
the  course  of  my  life  had  many  a  good  literary  idea. 
I  have  suggested  them  to  different  editors,  and  to 
Krayevsky  also  and  my  dead  brother;  each  one  that 
has  been  carried  out  has  proved  highly  lucrative.  So 
I  am  building  on  these  latest  notions.  But  the  chief 
thing  is  this  next  big  novel.  If  I  don't  write  it,  it 
will  torment  me  to  death.  But  I  can't  write  it  here. 
And  neither  can  I  retufin  to  Russia  until  I  have  paid 
at  least  4,000  roubles  of  my  debts,  and  have  besides 
in  my  possession  3,000  roubles  (so  as  to  be  able  to 
exist  through  the  first  year) — thus,  seven  thousand 
altogether. 

But  enough  of  me  and  my  tiresome  affairs  !  One 
way  or  another,  some  sort  of  an  end  must  come,  else 
I  shall  die  of  it  all.  .  .  . 

Your  ever  loving 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 

P.S. — My  address  is  Florence,  poste  restante.  I 
hear  that  an  enormous  lot  of  letters  get  lost. 


XLVII 

To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

FLORENCE, 
February  26  [March  10],  1869. 

.  .  .  And  have  you  observed  the  following  peculi- 
arity of  our  Russian  criticism  ?  Every  outstanding 
critic  (such  as  Bielinsky,  Grigoryev)  first  presented 
himself  to  the  public  under  the  protection,  so  to 
speak,  of  some  outstanding  writer — and  thence- 


XT.  47]  RUSSIAN  CRITICS  157 

forward  devoted  himself  wholly  to  the  interpretation 
of  that  writer,  nor  ever  expressed  his  ideas  save  in 
the  form  of  a  commentary  upon  that  writer's  works. 
The  critics  made  no  concealment  of  this,  and  indeed 
it  appeared  to  be  taken  as  a  matter-of-course.  I 
mean  to  say  that  our  critics  can  only  express  their 
own  ideas  when  they  step  forth  arm-in-arm  with 
some  writer  who  attracts  them.  Thus,  Bielinsky, 
when  he  passed  our  whole  literature  under  review, 
and  even  when  he  wrote  his  articles  on  Pushkin, 
could  only  do  so  by  leaning  on  Gogol,  to  whom  he 
had  paid  honour  in  his  youth.  Grigoryev  has  relied 
on  his  interpretations  of  Ostrovsky,  in  championing 
whom  he  made  his  debut.  And  you  have,  as  long  as 
I've  known  you,  had  a  boundless  and  instant  sym- 
pathy for  Leo  Tolstoy.  When  I  read  your  article  in 
the  Sarya,  I  felt,  to  be  sure,  an  impression  of  its  being 
wholly  necessary,  of  your  being  obliged  to  begin  with 
Leo  Tolstoy,  and  an  analysis  of  his  last  work,1  before 
you  could  utter  your  own  idea.  In  the  Golos,  a 
feuilletonist  declares  that  you  share  Tolstoy's  historical 
fatalism.  That  idiotic  phrase  leaves  things  precisely 
where  they  were;  do  tell  me  how  people  manage  to 
come  upon  such  amazing  notions  and  expressions  ! 
What  may  historical  fatalism  mean  ?  Why  this 
eternal  jargon,  and  why  do  simple-minded  men  who 
can  only  see  as  far  as  the  end  of  their  noses,  so  deepen 
and  darken  counsel  that  no  one  can  make  out  what 
they're  driving  at  ?  It  was  evident  that  that  feuille- 
tonist had  something  that  he  wanted  to  say;  he  had 
read  your  article,  beyond  doubt.  What  you  say  in 
the  passage  referring  to  the  battle  of  Borodino, 
expresses  the  profoundest  essence  of  the  Tolstoyan 
idea,  and  of  your  own  reflections  thereon.  I  don't 
think  you  could  possibly  have  spoken  with  more 
1  "  War  and  Peace." 


I5«  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XLVII 

lucidity.  The  national  Russian  idea  stands  almost 
nakedly  forth  in  that  passage.  Precisely  it  is  what 
people  have  failed  to  comprehend,  and  therefore  have 
designated  as  fatalism.  As  regards  other  details  of 
the  article,  I  must  await  the  sequel  (which  I  haven't 
yet  received).  At  any  rate  your  thoughts  are  lucid, 
logical,  definitely  conceived,  and  most  admirably 
expressed.  Certain  details,  though,  I  don't  entirely 
agree  in.  We  could  treat  these  questions  quite 
otherwise,  were  we  talking  to  one  another,  instead  of 
writing.  In  any  case,  I  regard  you  as  the  only 
representative  of  our  criticism  with  whom  the  future 
will  reckon.  .  .  . 

I  thank  you,  my  kind  and  much-esteemed  Nikolay 
Nikolayevitch,  for  the  great  interest  that  you  show  in 
me.  My  health  is  as  satisfactory  as  hitherto,  and  the 
attacks  are  even  less  violent  than  in  Petersburg. 
Lately  (that  is,  till  about  six  weeks  ago),  I  have  been 
much  occupied  with  the  end  of  my  "  Idiot."  Do 
write  and  give  me  the  opinion  you  promised  on  the 
book ;  I  await  it  eagerly.  I  have  my  own  idea  about 
art,  and  it  is  this:  What  most  people  regard  as 
fantastic  and  lacking  in  universality,  /  hold  to  be  the 
inmost  essence  of  truth.  Arid  observation  of  every- 
day trivialities  I  have  long  ceased  to  regard  as  realism 
— it  is  quite  the  reverse.  In  any  newspaper  one  takes 
up,  one  comes  across  reports  of  wholly  authentic 
facts,  which  nevertheless  strike  one  as  extraordinary. 
Our  writers  regard  them  as  fantastic,  and  take  no 
account  of  them;  and  yet  they  are  the  truth,  for 
they  are  facts.  But  who  troubles  to  observe,  record, 
describe,  them  ?  They  happen  every  day  and  every 
moment,  therefore  they  are  not  "  exceptional."  .  .  . 

The  Russians  are  often  unjustly  reproached  with 
beginning  all  sorts  of  things,  making  great  plans — but 
never  carrying  out  even  the  most  trivial  of  them. 


JET.  47]      DOSTOEVSKY'S  REALISM  159 

This  view  is  obsolete  and  shallow,  and  false  besides. 
It  is  a  slander  on  the  Russian  national  character;  and 
even  in  Bielinsky's  time  it  was  prevalent.  How  paltry 
and  petty  is  such  a  way  of  driving  home  actualities  ! 
Always  the  same  old  story  !  In  this  way,  we  shall 
let  all  true  actuality  slip  through  our  fingers.  And 
who  will  really  delineate  the  facts,  will  steep  himself 
in  them  ?  Of  Turgenev's  novel  I  don't  wish  even  to 
speak;  the  devil  knows  what  it  may  mean  !  But  is 
not  my  fantastic  "  Idiot  "  the  very  dailiest  truth  ? 
Precisely  such  characters  must  exist  in  those  strata  of 
our  society  which  have  divorced  themselves  from  the 
soil — which  actually  are  becoming  fantastic.  But  I'll 
talk  of  it  no  more  !  In  my  book  much  was  written 
in  haste,  much  is  too  drawn-out,  much  has  miscarried; 
but  much,  too,  is  extremely  good.  I  am  not  defend- 
ing the  novel,  but  the  idea.  Do  tell  me  your  view 
of  it;  and,  of  course,  quite  frankly.  The  more  you 
find  fault  with  me,  the  higher  shall  I  rate  your 
honest.  .  .  . 

[Thenceforth  he  writes  of  the  journal  Sarya,  and 
the  articles  which  have  been  published  therein.] 


XLVIII 

To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

FLORENCE, 

March  8  [20],  1869. 

You  have,  as  I  begged  you,  answered  all  my  letters 
regularly  by  return,  my  dear  and  precious  friend 
Sonetchka.  But  I  have  broken  my  word,  and  made 
you  wait  more  than  a  fortnight  for  my  answers. 
This  time  I  can't  even  excuse  myself  by  pressure 
of  work,  for  all  my  jobs  have  long  been  ready  and 


i6o  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [XLVIII 

delivered.     I  can  explain  my  silence  only  by  the 
depressed  state  of  mind  in  which  I  have  been. 

The  Roussky  Viestnik  did  not  answer  my  request  for 
money  for  seven  weeks  (so  that  I  had  to  wait  through 
all  Lent);  only  to-day  have  I  received  the  money, 
though  I  had  depicted  my  desperate  situation  to  the 
people  there  more  than  two  months  ago.  They  write 
with  many  apologies,  that  they  have  not  been  able  to 
send  me  the  money  any  sooner,  because,  as  always  at 
the  beginning  of  the  year,  they  were  confronted  with 
a  terrible  lot  of  work  that  could  not  be  postponed, 
and  with  the  accounts.  And  it  is  a  fact  that  about 
New  Year  one  never  can  get  anything  out  of  them; 
it  was  wont  to  be  so  in  earlier  days,  and  I  can  still 
remember  how  in  the  years  1866  and  1867  they  made 
me  wait  whole  months  for  an  answer,  just  as  now. 
So  we've  had  anything  but  an  easy  time  of  it — we 
were  even  in  actual  distress.  If  we  had  not  been 
able  to  borrow  two  hundred  francs  from  an  acquaint- 
ance, and  to  get  a  further  hundred  from  other  sources, 
we  might  easily  have  died  of  hunger  in  this  foreign 
town.  But  what  worried  us  most  was  the  constant 
suspense  and  uncertainty.  In  such  circumstances,  I 
could  not  possibly  write  to  anyone,  not  even  you,  my 
dear.  Evidently  the  staff,  as  I  gather  from  their 
letter,  wish  to  retain  me  as  a  contributor;  otherwise 
they  would  not  have  granted  me  a  further  advance. 
Indeed  I  can't  complain  of  Katkov,  and  am  even 
grateful  to  him  for  the  many  advances  he  has  made 
me.  Journals  are  impoverished  nowadays,  and 
don't  usually  give  any  advances ;  but  in  the  very  be- 
ginning, before  I  even  began  to  write  the  novel,  I  had 
4,000  roubles  from  these  people.  For  that  reason  1 
must  not  be  either  angry  or  disloyal.  ...  I  must 
strive  even  harder  than  hitherto  to  make  myself 
useful  to  them.  You  write  that  people  declare  the 


Ki.  47]       THE  "  ROUSSKY  VIESTNIK  "       161 

magazine  has  lost  ground.  Is  that  really  possible  ? 
I  can't  at  all  believe  it ;  of  course  not  because  /  am  a 
contributor,  but  because  the  paper  is,  in  my  opinion, 
the  best  in  Russia,  and  strikes  a  really  consistent  note. 
To  be  sure,  it  is  a  little  dry;  and  the  literary  side  is 
not  always  up  to  the  mark  (but  not  oftener  than  in 
the  other  magazines;  all  the  best  works  of  modern 
literature  have  appeared  therein:-  "  War  and  Peace," 
"  Fathers  and  Sons,"  etc.,  to  say  nothing  of  more  dis- 
tant years ;  and  the  public  knows  that  well) ;  critical 
articles  are  rare  (but  often  very  remarkable,  particu- 
larly when  it  is  not  a  question  of  so-called  fine 
literature) ;  but  then  there  appear  annually,  as  every 
subscriber  knows,  three  or  four  strikingly  able,  apt, 
individual,  and  in  these  days  most  necessary  articles, 
such  as  one  finds  nowhere  else.  The  public  knows 
that,  too.  Therefore  I  believe  that  the  paper,  even 
if  it  is  dry  and  addressed  to  a  particular  section  of 
the  public,  cannot  possibly  lose  ground. 

In  the  year  1867,  Katkov  told  me,  in  the  presence  of 
Lyubimov  and  the  editorial  secretary,  that  the  paper 
had  five  hundred  more  subscribers  than  the  year  be- 
fore, which  was  to  be  attributed  entirely  to  the  success 
of  my  "  Raskolnikov."1  I  hardly  think  that  "  The 
Idiot "  will  have  obtained  fresh  subscribers  for  the 
paper;  therefore  I  am  doubly  glad  that,  despite  the 
manifest  failure  of  the  story,  they  still  depend  on  me. 
The  editors  beg  me  to  excuse  them  for  being  unable 
to  bring  out  the  conclusion  in  the  December  number, 
and  propose  to  send  it  to  subscribers  as  a  supplement. 
This  is  quite  peculiarly  painful  for  me.  Have  you 
had  the  conclusion  ?  Do  write  and  tell  me.  I  get 
the  Roussky  Viestnik  here,  however;  perhaps  the 
supplement  will  come  with  the  February  number. 

From    Petersburg  I  am  told  quite  frankly  that 

1  "  Crime  and  Punishment." 

ii 


162  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [XLVIII 

"  The  Idiot  "  has  certainly  many  shortcomings,  and  is 
generally  regarded  as  a  falling  off;  but  nevertheless 
has  been  followed  with  great  interest  by  those  who 
read  at  all.  And  that  is  really  the  utmost  I  aimed  at. 
As  to  the  shortcomings,  I  perfectly  discern  them  my- 
self; I  am  so  vexed  by  my  errors  that  I  should  like 
to  have  written  a  criticism  of  the  book.  Strachov 
means  to  send  me  his  article  on  "The  Idiot";  I 
know  that  he  is  not  among  my  partisans. 

I  clearly  perceive  that  I  am  writing  only  about 
myself  to-day;  but  as  I  am  now  in  that  vein,  I'll  go 
on,  and  I  beg  you  to  hear  me  patiently.  On  all  these 
literary  matters  depends  now  my  whole  future,  and 
my  return  to  Russia.  My  dearest  wish  is  to  embrace 
you  all,  and  ever  to  remain  with  you;  perhaps  it  will 
really  come  true  some  day  !  I  needn't  emphasize  the 
fact,  dear  friend  (and  you  will  be  sure  to  understand 
me),  that  my  whole  literary  activity  has  embodied  for 
me  but  one  definite  ideal  value,  but  one  aim,  but  one 
hope — and  that  I  do  not  strive  for  fame  and  money, 
but  only  and  solely  for  the  synthesis  of  my  imaginative 
and  literary  ideals,  which  means  that  before  I  die 
I  desire  to  speak  out,  in  some  work  that  shall  as  far 
as  possible  express  the  whole  of  what  I  think. 

At  the  moment  I  am  meditating  a  novel.  It  will 
be  called  "  Atheism  ";  I  think  that  I  shall  succeed  in 
saying  all  that  I  wish  to  say.  But  think,  my  dear: 
I  cannot  possibly  write  here.  I  must  absolutely  be  in 
Russia,  I  must  see  and  hear  everything,  I  must  take 
my  own  part  in  Russian  life;  and  besides,  the  work 
would  take  at  least  two  years.  I  can't  do  it  here,  and 
must  therefore  write  something  else  in  the  meantime. 

On  this  account,  life  abroad  becomes  more  unbear- 
able to  me  every  day.  You  must  know  that  I  should 
have  6,000,  or  at  the  very  least  5,000,  roubles  before 
I  can  think  of  returning  to  Russia.  I  reckoned 


ST.  47]  "  I  MUST  RETURN "  163 

originally  on  the  success  of  "  The  Idiot."  If  it  had 
been  equal  to  that  of  "  Raskolnikov, "  I  should -*have 
had  those  5,000  roubles.  Now  I  must  set  all  my 
hopes  on  the  future.  God  knows  when  I  shall  be 
able  to  return.  But  return  I  must. 

You  write  of  Turgenev  and  the  Germans.  Tur- 
genev,  however,  has  lost  all  his  talent  in  this  foreign 
sojourn,  as  already  the  Golos  has  declared.  Certainly 
no  such  danger  threatens  me  as  that  of  succumbing 
to  Germanic  influence,  for  I  do  not  like  the  Germans. 
But  I  must  contrive  to  live  in  Russia,  for  here  I  shall 
lose  the  last  vestiges  of  my  talent  and  my  powers. 
I  feel  that,  in  all  my  being.  Therefore  I  must  talk 
to  you  still  more  about  those  literary  matters  upon 
which  depend  my  present,  my  future,  and  my  return 
to  Russia.  So  I  continue. 

The  Sarya  sent  me,  through  Strachov,  a  second 
letter  with  an  official  request  to  contribute.  This 
invitation  comes  from  Strachov,  from  the  editor 
Kachpirev,  and  some  other  contributors  whom  I  do 
not  personally  know  (Granovsky  is  not  among  them) ; 
Danilevsky  also  (whom  I  have  not  seen  for  twenty 
years)  is  of  the  number — this  is  not  the  novelist 
Danilevsky,  but  another  very  remarkable  man  of  the 
same  name.  I  perceive  that  a  set  of  new  coadjutors 
of  great  distinction,  and  of  thoroughly  Russian  and 
national  tendency,  have  clustered  round  this  journal. 
The  first  number  impressed  me  deeply  with  its  very 
frank  and  outspoken  tone,  but  especially  the  two  long 
articles  by  Strachov  and  Danilevsky.  You  must  be 
sure  to  read  Strachov's.  It  is  quite  certain  that  you 
have  never  read  any  critical  writing  that  can  compare 
with  it.  Danilevsky 's  article,  "  Europe  and  Russia," 
is  to  be  very  long  and  run  through  several  numbers. 
This  Danilevsky  is  a  most  unusual  phenomenon. 
Once  upon  a  time  he  was  a  Socialist  and  Fourierist ; 


164  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [XLVIII 

twenty  years  ago,  even,  when  he  was  involved  in  our 
affair,  he  struck  me  as  most  remarkable;  from  his 
banishment  he  returned  a  thorough  Russian  and 
Nationalist.  This  article  (which  I  very  particularly 
recommend  to  you)  is  his  maiden  effort.  The  paper 
seems  to  me,  in  general,  to  have  a  great  future 
before  it ;  but  will  the  contributors  continue  to  pull 
together  ?  Again,  Strachov,  the  real  editor,  strikes 
me  as  little  fitted  for  a  continuous  task.  But  I 
may  be  mistaken.  I  answered  the  invitation  to  col- 
laborate thus:  I  was  most  willing  (I  said)  to  con- 
tribute to  the  paper ;  but  as  my  situation  obliged  me 
always  to  demand  payment  in  advance,  which,  more- 
over, Katkov  had  always  allowed  me  to  do,  I  now 
begged  for  an  advance  of  a  thousand  roubles.  (It  is 
not  too  much:  what  am  I  to  live  on  while  I'm  doing 
the  work  ?  I  can't  possibly  ask  Katkov  for  money, 
while  I'm  working  for  another  paper.)  I  sent  this 
letter  some  days  ago,  and  am  now  awaiting  the 
answer.  All  I  know  is  this:  if  they  have  money, 
they'll  send  it  me  at  once;  but  I  must  reckon  with 
the  possibility  that  they  have  none,  for  I  know  from 
experience  what  difficulties  a  new  journal  has  to 
encounter  in  its  first  year.  Even  if  they  do  send 
me  the  thousand  roubles,  that  will  be  no  particular 
advantage  to  me.  From  Katkov  I  could  have  got 
quite  as  much,  even  a  great  deal  more.  The  only 
advantage  would  be  that  I  should  at  once  have  a 
large  sum  of  money  (which  I  urgently  need)  to  dis- 
pose of;  I  could  then  lay  aside  400  roubles  for  Pasha 
and  Emilie  Fyodorovna,  and  besides  that  pay  a 
peculiarly  worrying  debt  that  I  owe  in  Petersburg: 
it  is  a  debt  of  honour  without  any  promissory  note. 
It's  only  on  account  of  this  debt  that  I've  asked  for 
the  advance. 
Again,  I  think  it  would  be  to  my  advantage  to 


MT.  47]        BETWEEN  TWO  PAPERS  165 

appear  successfully  before  the  public  in  another  paper; 
for  then  the  Roussky  Viestnik  would  esteem  me  more 
highly  still.  I  fear  only  that  the  Viestnik  people  may 
be  offended,  although  I  never  promised  them  an 
exclusive  collaboration,  and  consequently  have  a  right 
to  work  for  other  papers.  But  I  don't  quite  like  the 
fact  that  I  still  owe  the  R.V.  about  2,000  roubles, 
for  I've  gradually  obtained  from  them  as  much  as 
7,000  roubles.  It's  just  on  that  ground  that  they 
may  take  it  ill  of  me.  But  three  months  ago,  I  wrote 
and  told  them  that  the  novel  I  had  promised  them 
could  not  appear  this  year,  but  only  in  the  course  of 
next  (1870).  For  the  Sarya  I  want  to  write  a  story 
which  would  take  about  four  months  to  do,  and  to 
which  I  propose  to  devote  the  hours  that  I  had 
reserved  to  myself  for  walks  and  recreation  after  my 
fourteen  months  of  labour.  But  I  am  afraid  that  the 
affair  will  get  talked  about,  and  that  this  may  injure 
me  with  the  Roiissky  Viestnik.  .  .  . 
Wholly  yours, 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


XLIX 
To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

FLORENCE, 
March  18  [30],  1869. 

.  .  .  Danilevsky's  article  seems  to  me  more  and 
more  important  and  valuable.  It  will  assuredly  be 
for  many  a  day  the  "  Household  Companion  "  of  every 
Russian.  Quite  apart  from  its  content,  the  clear  lan- 
guage, the  "  popular,"  lucid  manner  of  presentation, 
joined  to  his  uncompromising  knowledge  of  his  sub- 
ject— all  combines  for  success.  How  I  should  like  to 
talk  with  you  about  this  article — with  you,  precisely 


166  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [XLIX 

you,  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch.  I  should  have  so  much 
to  say  to  you  on  the  subject  !  The  article  is  so  in 
harmony  with  my  own  views  and  convictions  that 
here  and  there  I  stand  amazed  at  the  identity  of  our 
conclusions;  as  long  as  two  years  ago,  I  began  to  jot 
down  certain  of  my  reflections,  for  I  had  proposed  to 
write  an  article  with  a  very  similar  title,  and  with 
the  same  tendency  and  the  same  conclusions.  How 
great  was  my  joy  and  amazement  when  I  beheld  this 
plan,  which  I  had  hoped  to  carry  out  in  the  future, 
already  carried  out,  and  that  so  harmoniously  and 
logically,  and  with  such  knowledge  as  I,  with  the  best 
will  in  the  world,  could  never  have  brought  to  the 
task.  I  await  so  eagerly  the  continuation  of  that 
article  that  I  daily  hurry  to  the  post,  and  am  always 
making  elaborate  calculations  as  to  when  the  next 
number  of  the  Sarya  will  be  likely  to  arrive.  My 
impatience  is  the  greater  because  I  have  some  mis- 
givings about  the  final  summing-up;  I  am  not  quite 
sure  that  Danilevsky  will  dwell  with  sufficient  emphasis 
upon  what  is  the  inmost  essence,  and  the  ultimate 
destiny,  of  the  Russian  nation:  namely,  that  Russia 
must  reveal  to  the  world  her  own  Russian  Christ, 
whom  as  yet  the  -peoples  know  not,  and  who  is  rooted 
in  our  native  Orthodox  faith.  There  lies,  as  I  believe, 
the  inmost  essence  of  our  vast  impending  contribution 
to  civilization,  whereby  we  shall  awaken  the  European 
peoples;  there  lies  the  inmost  core  of  our  exuberant 
and  intense  existence  that  is  to  be.  I  cannot  in  the 
least  express  it  in  these  few  words ;  indeed,  I  regret 
that  I  have  touched  on  it  at  all.  I  will  only  say  this 
much  more:  after  our  paltry,  hypocritical,  angry, 
one-sided,  and  barren  attitude  of  negation,  such  a 
journal  as  yours,  with  its  grave,  its  thoroughly 
Russian,  its  statesmanlike  and  vital,  tone,  must  un- 
doubtedly have  a  great  success. 


JJT.  47]  AT  FLORENCE  167 

[Dostoevsky  goes  on  to  praise  an  article  by 
Strachov,  and  then  enlarges  on  the  purely  business 
details  of  his  proposed  collaboration  on  the  Sarya.} 


To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

DRESDEN, 
August  29  [September  10],  1869. 

At  last  I  have  arrived  at  writing  to  you,  my  dear 
and  only  woman-friend  Sonetchka.  What  can  you 
have  thought  of  my  long  silence  ?  .  .  .  I'll  tell  you 
in  a  few  words  all  that  is  worth  knowing  about  my- 
self; I  am  only  writing  to  link  up  our  broken  chain 
of  communication.  But  I  will  say  besides  that  my 
thoughts  of  you  and  yours  have  not  been  broken. 
Anya  and  I  always  talk  of  you,  whenever  we  think  of 
our  Russian  home,  and  that  is  many  times  a  day. 

I  remained  stuck  so  long  at  Florence  only  because 
I  had  not  the  money  to  leave  it.  The  staff  of  the 
Roitssky  Viestnik  left  my  urgent  request  for  money 
unanswered  for  more  than  three  months  (I  have — 
but  this  between  ourselves  ! — grounds  for  supposing 
that  they  had  no  money  in  the  till,  and  that  that  was 
the  only  reason  why  they  did  not  answer  for  so  long) . 
At  last  they  sent  me  (five  weeks  ago)  seven  hundred 
roubles  to  Florence.  Well,  dear  friend,  call  upon 
your  whole  powers  of  imagination,  and  try  to  depict 
for  yourself  what  we  in  Florence,  during  the  whole  of 
June  and  July,  and  half  of  August,  were  going 
through  !  In  my  whole  life  I've  never  experienced 
anything  like  it  !  The  guide-books  may  say  that 
Florence,  by  reason  of  its  position,  is  the  coldest 
town  in  winter  of  all  Italy  (they  mean  the  actual 
Italy — that  is  to  say,  the  whole  peninsula);  but  in 


168  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [L 

summer,  it  is  the  hottest  town  in  the  whole  peninsula, 
and  even  in  the  whole  Mediterranean  region — only 
some  parts  of  Sicily  and  Algiers  can  touch  Florence 
for  heat.  Well,  and  so  it  was  as  hot  as  hell,  and  we 
bore  it  like  true  Russians,  who  notoriously  can  bear 
anything.  I  may  add  that  for  the  last  six  weeks  of 
our  stay  there,  we  were  very  hard-up.  We  had  not, 
it  is  true,  to  suffer  actual  privation  in  any  respect, 
nor  did  we  deny  ourselves  anything,  but  our  abode 
was  thoroughly  uncomfortable.  We  had  been  obliged, 
for  unforeseen  reasons,  to  leave  the  house  where  we 
had  spent  the  winter ;  while  we  were  waiting  for  that 
money,  we  went  to  a  family  with  whom  we  are 
friendly,  and  rented  provisionally  a  tiny  dwelling. 
But  as  the  money  delayed  to  come,  we  had  to  stay 
in  that  hole  (where  we  caught  two  beastly  tarantulas) 
three  whole  months. 

Our  windows  gave  on  a  market -square  with  arcades 
and  splendid  granite-pillars;  in  the  square  was  a 
municipal  fountain  in  the  form  of  a  gigantic  bronze 
boar  from  whose  throat  the  water  flowed  (it  is  a 
classic  masterpiece  of  rare  beauty).  Well,  now  reflect 
that  all  those  arcades  and  the  masses  of  stone  by 
which  the  whole  square  is  surrounded,  drank  in  and 
accumulated  all  the  heat  of  the  sun,  and  got  as 
scorching  as  a  stove-pipe  in  a  vapour-bath — and  that 
was  the  atmosphere  we  had  to  live  in.  The  real 
heat,  that  is,  the  real  hell-heat,  we  had  to  groan  under 
for  six  weeks  (earlier,  it  was  just  in  a  sort  of  way 
endurable) ;  it  was  nearly  always  34  and  35  degrees 
Reaumur  in  the  shade.  You  must  know  that  the 
air,  despite  this  heat  and  drought  (it  never  once 
rained),  was  wonderfully  light;  the  green  in  the 
gardens  (of  which  there  are  astonishingly  few  in 
Florence;  one  sees  hardly  anything  but  stones) — the 
green  neither  withered  nor  faded,  but  seemed  brighter 


MT.  47l  AT  FLORENCE  169 

and  fresher  every  day;  the  flowers  and  lemon-trees 
had  apparently  only  waited  for  the  heat;  but  what 
astonished  me  most — me,  who  was  imprisoned  in 
Florence  by  untoward  circumstance — was  that  the 
itinerant  foreigners  (who  are  nearly  all  very  rich) 
mostly  remained  in  Florence;  new  ones  even  arrived 
every  day.  Usually  the  tourists  of  all  Europe  throng, 
at  the  beginning  of  the  hot  weather,  to  the  German 
spas.  When  I  saw  in  the  streets  well-dressed 
Englishwomen  and  even  Frenchwomen,  I  could  not 
conceive  why  these  people,  who  had  money  to  get 
away  with,  could  voluntarily  stay  in  such  a  hell.  I 
was  sorriest  of  all  for  poor  Anya.  The  poor  thing 
was  then  in  her  seventh  or  eighth  month,  and  so 
suffered  dreadfully  from  the  heat.  Moreover,  the 
population  of  Florence  spends  the  whole  night  on 
its  feet,  and  there's  a  terrible  deal  of  singing.  Of 
course  we  had  our  windows  open  at  night;  then 
about  five  o'clock  in  the  morning,  the  people  began 
to  racket  in  the  market,  and  the  donkeys  to  bray,  so 
that  we  never  could  close  an  eye. 

The  distance  from  Florence  to  Prague  (by  Venice 
and  then  by  boat  to  Trieste;  there's  no  other  way)  is 
more  than  a  thousand  versts;  I  was  therefore  very 
anxious  about  Anya;  but  the  renowned  Dr.  Sapetti 
of  Florence  examined  her  and  said  that  she  could 
undertake  the  journey  without  any  risk.  He  was 
right  too,  and  the  journey  went  off  well.  On  the 
way  we  stopped  two  days  in  Venice;  when  Anya 
saw  the  Piazza  of  St.  Mark's  and  the  palaces,  she 
almost  screamed  with  delight.  In  St.  Mark's  (the 
church  is  a  wonderful,  incomparable  building !)  she 
lost  her  carved  fan  which  I  had  bought  her  in 
Switzerland,  and  which  was  particularly  dear  to  her; 
she  has  so  few  trinkets,  you  see.  My  God,  how  she 
did  cry  over  it !  We  liked  Vienna  very  much  too ; 


170  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [L 

Vienna  is  decidedly  more  beautiful  than  Paris.  In 
Prague  we  spent  three  days  looking  for  a  place  of 
abode,  but  found  none.  One  can,  in  fact,  only  get 
unfurnished  rooms  there,  as  in  Petersburg  or  Moscow ; 
then  one  has  to  get  one's  own  furniture,  and  a  servant- 
maid,  and  set  up  house,  and  so  forth.  Nothing  else 
is  to  be  had.  Our  means  did  not  permit  of  it,  and 
therefore  we  left  Prague. 

Now  we  have  been  three  months  in  Dresden; 
Anya's  confinement  may  happen  at  any  moment. 
For  the  present  we  are  not  doing  so  badly ;  but  I  am 
badly  "  sold,"  for  it  seems  now  that  the  hot,  dry  air  in 
Florence  was  extraordinarily  beneficial  to  my  health, 
and  even  more  so  to  my  nerves  (nor  had  Anya  any- 
thing to  complain  of,  rather  the  contrary).  It  was 
precisely  on  the  hottest  days  that  the  epilepsy  was 
least  perceptible,  and  my  attacks  in  Florence  were 
much  slighter  than  anywhere  else.  But  here  I'm 
always  ill  (perhaps  it  may  be  only  the  effect  of  the 
journey).  I  don't  know  if  I've  caught  cold,  or  if  the 
feverish  attacks  come  from  the  nerves.  These  last 
three  weeks  I  have  had  two;  both  very  vicious  ones. 
Yet  the  weather  is  glorious.  I  ascribe  it  all  to  the 
fact  of  coming  suddenly  from  the  Italian  to  the 
German  climate.  I  have  fever  at  the  actual  moment, 
and  think  that  in  this  climate  I  shall  write  feverishly 
— that  is,  incoherently. 

Now  I  have  given  you  a  lot  of  information  about 
myself.  Of  course  it  is  only  the  hundredth  part; 
besides  illness,  many  things  oppress  me,  of  which  I 
can  give  no  idea  at  all.  Here  is  an  example :  I  must 
absolutely  deliver  the  beginning  of  my  novel  in  time 
for  the  January  number  of  the  Roussky  Viestnik  (to 
be  sure  I  am  bound  to  admit  that  they  do  not  press 
me  in  any  way;  they  behave  remarkably  well  to  me 
and  never  refuse  advances,  though  I  already  owe 


.ET.  47]  WORK  AND  MONEY  171 

them  a  very  great  deal;  but  I  am  tormented  by 
pangs  of  conscience,  and  so  feel  just  the  same  as  if 
they  did  press  me).  Moreover,  I  took  an  advance  of 
300  roubles  from  the  Sarya  early  in  the  year,  and 
that  with  a  promise  to  send  them  this  very  year  a 
story  of  at  least  three  sheets.  At  the  present  moment 
I  have  not  begun  either  the  one  or  the  other  of  these 
tasks;  at  Florence  I  could  not  work  on  account 
of  the  heat.  When  I  undertook  the  obligation,  I 
reckoned  on  going  from  Florence  to  Germany  early 
in  the  new  year,  and  there  setting  to  work  at  once. 
But  what  can  I  do  when  people  make  me  wait  three 
months  for  money,  and  thus  remove  from  me  the 
possibility  of  doing  anything  at  all  ?  Anya  will,  in 
about  ten  days,  present  me  with  a  child,  probably  a 
boy,  and  this  will  further  delay  my  endeavours.  She 
will  certainly  have  to  keep  her  bed  for  three  weeks, 
and  so  will  not  be  able  either  to  do  shorthand  or  to 
copy  for  me.  Of  my  own  health,  I  need  not  speak. 
And  then  the  work  itself !  Must  I,  to  carry  out  my 
commissions  punctually,  tumble  over  my  own  feet,  as 
it  were,  and  so  spoil  all  ?  I  am  now  utterly  possessed 
by  one  idea ;  yet  I  dare  not  take  any  steps  to  carry  it 
out,  for  I  am  not  sufficiently  prepared  to  do  so — I 
still  have  much  to  ponder,  and  I  must  collect  material. 
Thus  I  have  to  force  myself  to  write,  meanwhile,  some 
new  stories.  And  to  me  that  is  terrible.  What  lies 
before  me,  and  how  I  shall  arrange  my  affairs,  is  to 
me  an  enigma  !  .  .  . 

Till  the  next  time,  my  dear  friend.  Write  me  a 
great  deal  about  yourself.  And  above  all  as  many 
facts  as  possible. 

I  embrace  you. 

Your  ever  devoted 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


172  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LI 

LI 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

DRESDEN, 
October  16  [28],  1869. 

[The  greater  part  of  the  letter  deals  with  a  business 
misunderstanding  with  the  staff  of  the  Sarya.] 

What  am  I  to  do  now  ?  When  shall  I  get  my 
money  now  ?  Why  does  he  [Kachpirev,  the  editor  of 
the  Sarya]  wait  for  my  telegram,  and  request  me  to 
return  to  him  the  letter  of  exchange  ("  then  I  shall 
send  you  the  money  in  the  course  of  post,"  he  said) 
instead  of  sending  me  now,  directly,  the  second  in- 
stalment of  seventy-five  roubles,  which  was  due  ten 
days  ago  ?  Does  he  think  that  the  letter  in  which  I 
described  my  destitute  condition  was  a  piece  of  fine 
writing  and  nothing  more  ?  How  can  I  work,  when 
I  am  hungry,  and  had  to  pawn  my  very  pantaloons  to 
get  the  two  thalers  for  the  telegram  ?  The  devil  take 
me  and  my  hunger  !  But  she,  my  wife,  who  now  is 
suckling  her  infant,  she  had  to  go  herself  to  the  pawn- 
shop and  pledge  her  last  warm  woollen  garment  ! 
And  it  has  been  snowing  here  for  the  last  two  days  (I 
am  not  lying:  look  at  the  newspapers  !)  How  easily 
may  she  catch  cold  !  Isn't  he  capable  of  understand- 
ing, then,  that  I  am  ashamed  of  telling  him  all  these 
things  ?  And  it's  nothing  like  the  whole  of  them 
either;  there  are  other  things  of  which  I'm  ashamed: 
we  haven't  yet  paid  either  the  midwife  or  the  land- 
lady; and  all  these  vexations  must  fall  upon  her 
precisely  in  the  first  month  after  her  accouchement  ! 
Doesn't  he  see  that  it's  not  only  me,  but  my  wife, 
whom  he  insults,  by  taking  my  letter  so  frivolously, 
for  I  told  him  of  my  wife's  great  need.  Indeed  he 
has  grossly  insulted  me  ! 


JJT.  48]     TELEGRAMS  AND  THALERS  173 

Perhaps  he  may  say:  "Confound  him  and  his 
poverty  1  He  must  plead,  and  not  demand,  for  I  am 
not  bound  to  pay  him  his  fee  in  advance."  Can't  he 
understand  that  by  his  favourable  answer  to  my  first 
letter  he  did  bind  me  t  Why  did  I  turn  to  him  with 
my  request  for  200  roubles,  and  not  to  Katkov  ? 
Only  and  solely  because  I  believed  that  I  should  get 
the  money  sooner  from  him  than  from  Katkov  (whom 
I  did  not  wish  to  trouble) ;  if  I  had  written  to  Katkov 
then,  the  money  would  have  been  in  my  hands  at 
least  a  week  ago  !  But  I  did  not.  Why  ?  Because 
he  [Kachpirev]  had  bound  me  by  his  answer.  Conse- 
quently he  has  no  right  to  say  that  he  confounds  me 
and  my  poverty,  and  that  it's  an  impertinence  in 
me  to  urge  him  to  make  haste. 

But  of  course  he  will  say  that  he  has  nothing  to  do 
with  it,  and  that  I'm  impertinent.  Of  course  he'll  say 
he  has  done  all  that  lay  in  his  power,  that  he  sent  off 
the  letter  of  exchange  in  the  course  of  post,  that  he  is 
nowise  to  blame,  that  there  is  a  misunderstanding, 
and  so  forth.  And  by  God,  he  really  believes  that 
he's  right  !  Can  he  not  see,  then,  that  it's  unforgiv- 
able to  leave  my  despairing  letter,  in  which  I  told  him 
that  through  his  negligence  I  had  been  so  long  penni- 
less— to  leave  it  unanswered  for  twelve  days.  Yes, 
for  twelve  days,  I  am  not  telling  a  lie;  I  still  have 
the  envelope  with  the  post-mark  intact.  It's  unheard 
of — not  to  reply  for  six  days  to  a  telegram,  that  he 
himself  made  me  send,  when  a  letter  would  have  taken 
only  four  days  !  Such  negligence  is  unpardonable, 
insulting  !  It  is  a  personal  offence.  For  I  had  told 
him  about  my  wife  and  her  accouchement.  He  had 
bound  himself  to  me  in  advance,  by  making  it  seem 
superfluous  that  I  should  apply  to  Katkov:  it  is  a 
serious  personal  offence  ! 

He  requests  me  to  explain  by  telegram  what  my 


174  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LII 

first  telegram  meant,  and  adds:  "Of  course  at  my 
expense  "  !  Doesn't  he  know,  then,  that  an  unstamped 
telegram  is  accepted  nowhere,  and  that  consequently  I 
must  have  two  thalers  before  I  can  send  one  ?  After 
all  my  letters,  is  he  unable  to  divine  that  it's  possible 
I  may  not  have  those  two  thalers  ?  It  is  the  thought- 
lessness of  a  man  who  cares  nothing  for  his  fellow's 
perplexity.  And  then  they  demand  of  me  lucid  art, 
effortless  and  untroubled  poetry,  and  point  me  to 
Turgenev  and  Gontscharov  !  If  they  but  knew  the 
conditions  under  which  I  have  to  work  !  . 


LII 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

DRESDEN, 
February  12  [24],  1870. 

My  attacks,  after  a  long  respite,  are  now  coming 
on  me  terribly  again,  and  disturb  me  in  my  work. 
I  have  a  big  idea  in  hand ; *•  I  don't  mean  that  the 
execution  is  big,  but  the  idea  as  such.  It  is  somewhat 
in  the  kind  of  "  Raskolnikov  "  ["  Crime  and  Punish- 
ment "],  but  is  still  closer  to  actuality,  and  deals  with 
the  most  weighty  question  of  our  time.  I  shall  be 
ready  with  it  in  the  autumn ;  and  that  without  over- 
hurrying.  I  shall  make  an  effort  to  ^bring  out  the 
book  directly — that  is,  in  the  autumn  too ;  if  I  can't, 
it  won't  matter.  I  hope  to  earn  at  least  as  much 
money  with  it  as  I  did  with  "  Raskolnikov  ";  and  so 
look  forward  to  having  all  my  affairs  in  order  by  the 
end  of  the  year,  and  returning  to  Russia.  Only  the 
theme  is  almost  too  intense  and  thrilling.  I  have 
never  yet  worked  so  easily  and  with  such  enjoyment. 

1  "  The  Possessed." 


XT.  48]  FIRE  AND  FLAME  175 

But  enough.     I  must  be  positively  slaying  you  with 
my  interminable  letters  !  .  .  . 

[The  greater  part  of  the  letter  refers  to  his  relations 
with  the  publisher  Stellovsky,  and  with  the  staff  of 
the  Sarya.] 

LIU 

To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

DRESDEN, 
February  26  [March  10],  1870. 

MUCH-ESTEEMED  NIKOLAY  NIKOLAYEVITCH, 

I  hasten  to  thank  you  for  your  letter  and  your 
interest  in  me.  In  foreign  lands,  the  letters  of  our 
old  friends  are  peculiarly  precious  to  us.  Maikov 
apparently  means  to  write  to  me  no  more.  With  the 
deepest  interest  I  have  read  the  kindly  lines  which 
you  devote  to  my  story.1  What  you  say  is  agreeable 
and  flattering  to  me ;  just  like  you,  I  have  an  earnest 
desire  to  please  my  readers.  Kachpirev  is  satisfied, 
too;  he  has  written  two  letters  in  that  sense.  It  all 
rejoices  me  extraordinarily ;  I  take  particular  pleasure 
in  what  you  tell  me  about  the  Sarya;  it  is  certainly 
very  gratifying  that  the  existence  of  the  journal  is 
assured.  As  far  as  its  tendency  is  concerned,  I  am 
in  entire  agreement  with  it;  consequently  its  success 
is  my  success.  The  paper  reminds  me  in  many 
respects  of  the  Vremya — of  our  youthful  days. 

[Here  follow  some  remarks  upon  the  journal,  and 
on  the  feasibility  of  Dostoevsky's  further  collaboration 
on  the  Sarya.] 

I  will  tell  you  honestly:  I  have  never  yet  sought 
a  theme  for  the  money's  sake,  nor  even  from  a  sense 

i  "  The  Eternal  Widow,"  which  appeared  in  the  Sarya 
(1870,  Nos.  i  and  2). 


176  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LIU 

of  duty,  so  as  to  have  a  promised  work  ready  by  the 
appointed  time.  I  have  undertaken  commissions  only 
when  I  already  had  a  theme  ready  in  my  head,  one 
that  I  really  desired  to  work  out,  and  the  working- 
out  of  which  I  considered  necessary.  Such  a  theme 
I  have  now.  I  won't  enlarge  upon  that ;  I  will  only 
say  that  I  have  never  had  a  better  or  a  more  original 
idea.1  I  may  say  this  without  incurring  the  reproach 
of  lack  of  modesty,  because  I  speak  only  of  the  idea, 
not  of  the  execution  of  it.  That  lies  in  God's  hand; 
I  may  indeed  spoil  all,  as  I  have  so  often  done ;  still, 
an  inward  voice  assures  me  that  inspiration  will  not 
fail  in  the  execution,  either.  Anyhow  I  can  answer 
for  the  novelty  of  the  idea,  and  the  originality  of  the 
manner,  and  I  am,  at  the  present  moment,  fire  and 
flame.  It  is  to  be  a  novel  in  two  parts  of  at  least  twelve, 
and  at  most  fifteen,  sheets  (so  I  see  it  at  this  stage). 

[There  follow  considerations  of  the  feasibility  of 
bringing  out  the  new  novel  in  the  Sarya.] 

So  I  await  your  answer;  and  make  you,  besides, 
one  great  and  urgent  request:  Send  me  if  possible, 
putting  it  down  against  my  forthcoming  resources 
(as  you  once  sent  me  Tolstoy's  "  War  and  Peace  ") 
Stankevitch's  book  upon  Granovsky.  You  will  do 
me  thereby  a  great  service,  which  I  shall  never  forget. 
I  want  the  book  as  urgently  as  I  want  air  to  breathe, 
and  that  as  soon  as  possible ;  I  need  it  as  material  for 
my  work;2  without  that  book  I  can  do  nothing. 
Don't  forget  it,  for  Christ's  sake;  send  it  me,  no 
matter  how  you  manage  it.  ... 

1  He  here  again  refers  to  the  still  projected  novel  "  Athe- 
ism "   (see  letters  to  Maikov  of   December   n,    1868,   and 
March  25,  1870). 

2  Dostoevsky  gave  the  character  of  Stepan  Trophimovitch 
Verchovensky  in  "The  Possessed"  some  of  the  traits  of 
Granovsky. 


MI.  48]  THE "  NOVEL  177 

LIV 

To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

DRESDEN, 
March  24  [April  5],  1870. 

I  hasten,  much-esteemed  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch, 
to  answer  your  letter,  and  I  shall  come  at  once  to 
myself.  I  want  to  tell  you,  decisively  and  frankly, 
that,  after  the  closest  consideration,  I  cannot  possibly 
promise  to  have  the  novel  ready  so  soon  as  the 
autumn.  It  appears  to  me  quite  impracticable;  and 
I  should  like  to  beg  the  staff  not  to  press  me,  for  I 
want  to  do  my  work  quite  as  carefully  and  neatly  as 
certain  gentlemen  (that  is,  the  Great  Ones)  do  theirs. 
All  I  will  guarantee  is  that  the  novel  shall  be  ready 
in  the  January  of  the  coming  year.  This  work  is  more 
to  me  than  aught  else.  The  idea  is  more  precious  to 
me  than  any  of  my  other  ideas,  and  I  want  to  do  it 
well.  ...  I  also  set  great  hopes  on  the  novel  which 
I  am  now  writing1  for  the  Roussky  Viestnik',  I  don't 
mean  as  a  work  of  art,  but  because  of  its  tendencies ; 
I  mean  to  utter  certain  thoughts,  whether  all  the 
artistic  side  of  it  goes  to  the  dogs  or  not.  The 
thoughts  that  have  gathered  themselves  together  in 
my  head  and  my  heart  are  pressing  me  on ;  even  if 
it  turns  into  a  mere  pamphlet,  I  shall  say  all  that  I 
have  in  my  heart.  I  hope  for  success.  For  that 
matter,  who  ever  sets  himself  to  a  task  without 
so  hoping  ?  This  work  for  the  Roussky  Viestnik 
I  shall  soon  have  finished,  and  then  I  can  turn  with 
gusto  to  the  novel. 

I  have  been  meditating  the  idea  of  this  novel  for 
three  years ;  till  now  I  have  not  been  able  to  make  up 

1  "  The  Possessed." 

12 


178  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [Liv 

my  mind  to  attack  it  in  these  foreign  lands ;  I  wanted 
not  to  begin  till  I  was  in  Russia.  But  during  these 
three  years,  the  whole  conception  has  matured  within 
me,  and  I  think  that  I  can  begin  the  first  part  (which 
I  intend  for  the  Sarya),  even  here,  for  the  action  of 
that  part  is  concerned  with  many  years  ago.  You 
need  not  be  uneasy  when  I  speak  of  a  "  first  part." 
The  idea  demands  great  length ;  at  least  as  great  as  in 
the  Tolstoy  an  novels.  It  will  really  be  a  cycle  of  five 
distinct  stories;  these  will  be  so  independent  of  one 
another  that  any  one  of  them  (except  the  two  that 
come  midway)  could  perfectly  well  be  published  in 
different  journals  as  completely  separate  works.  The 
general  title  is  to  be :  "  The  Life-Story  of  a  Great 
Sinner,"1  and  each  separate  tale  will  have  its  own 
title  as  well.  Each  division  (that  is,  each  single 
story)  will  be  about  fifteen  sheets  at  most  in  length. 
To  write  the  second  story,  I  must  be  in  Russia;  the 
action  of  that  part  takes  place  in  a  Russian  monastery ; 
although  I  know  the  Russian  monasteries  well,  I 
must  nevertheless  come  back  to  Russia.  I  should 
like  to  have  said  much  more  about  it  to  you,  but 
what  can  one  say  in  a  letter  ?  I  repeat,  however, 
that  I  can't  possibly  promise  the  novel  for  this  year ; 
don't  press  me,  and  you  will  get  a  conscientious, 
perhaps  even  a  really  good,  work  (at  all  events  I  have 
set  myself  this  idea  as  the  goal  of  my  literary  future, 
for  I  can't  at  all  hope  to  live  and  work  more  than  six 
or  seven  years  longer). 

I  have  read  the  March  number  of  the  Sarya  with 
great  enjoyment.  I  await  impatiently  the  continua- 
tion of  your  article,  so  that  I  may  grasp  it  in  its 
entirety.  It  seems  to  me  that  your  point  is  to  show 
Herzen  as  an  Occidentalist,  and  in  general  to  speak 

1  This,  like  "  Atheism,"  is  the  original  idea,  never  com- 
pletely carried  out,  of  "  The  Brothers  Karamazov." 


'         .$?.:       -        . 


K^.  .'  -     -  -I 
%^  ;••-  •••  :^_^±  •  •.  ~~7~--  ^:^~_^°Lf, 
^AI*.     c^r%r?vrr^  - :,  ^gvggg'^^gfi 
y        r^.<^.  ...^vartu^^,  ^4^  « 


FACSIMILE   OK   "THK    POSSESSED,"    PART   III.:   BEGINNING    OF 
CHAPTKK    I. 


JST.  48]  TOLSTOY  179 

of  the  Occident  in  contradistinction  to  Russia;  am 
I  right  ?  You  chose  your  point  of  departure  very 
cleverly ;  Herzen  is  a  pessimist ;  but  do  you  really 
hold  his  doubts  ("  Who  is  guilty  ?"  "  Krupov,"  and 
the  rest)  to  be  insoluble  ?  It  seems  to  me  that  you 
evade  that  question,  in  order  to  give  your  funda- 
mental idea  more  value.  Anyhow  I  await  most 
eagerly  the  continuation  of  the  article;  the  theme  is 
positively  too  exciting  and  actual.  What  will  come 
of  it,  if  you  really  adduce  the  proof  that  Herzen, 
earlier  than  many  others,  pointed  to  the  decadence 
of  the  West  ?  What  will  the  Occidentalists  of  the 
Granovsky  period  say  to  that  ?  To  be  sure,  I  don't 
know  if  that  is  what  you  really  are  working  up  to; 
it  is  only  a  presentiment  of  mine.  Don't  you,  more- 
over, think  (although  it  has  nothing  to  do  with  the 
theme  of  your  article)  that  there  is  another  stand- 
point from  which  to  judge  the  character  and  activi- 
ties, of  Herzen — namely  that  he  ever  and  always  was 
first  of  all  a  writer  ?  The  writer  in  him  prevails  ever 
and  always,  in  everything  that  he  does.  The  agitator 
is  a  writer,  the  politician  a  writer,  the  Socialist  a 
writer,  the  philosopher,  to  the  last  degree,  a  writer  ! 
This  peculiarity  of  his  nature  is,  I  think,  explanatory 
of  much  in  his  work;  even  to  his  levity  and  his  love 
of  punning  when  he  is  treating  the  most  serious  moral 
and  philosophical  questions  (which,  by-the-bye,  is 
not  a  little  repellent  in  him). 

[He  then  speaks  of  Strachov's  polemical  articles, 
which  Dostoevsky  thinks  too  mild:  "The  Nihilists 
and  Occidentalists  deserve  the  knout."] 

You  maintain,  among  other  things,  that  Tolstoy 
is  equal  to  any  of  our  greatest  writers;  with  that 
passage  in  your  letter  I  cannot  possibly  say  that  I 
agree.  It  is  a  thing  that  ought  not  to  be  affirmed ! 


i8o  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LV 

Pushkin  and  Lomonossov  were  geniuses.  A  writer 
who  steps  forward  with  the  "  Negro  of  Peter  the 
Great  "  and  "  Bielkin  "  comes  bringing  a  message  ol 
genius,  a  new  message,  that  nobody  before  him  has 
anywhere  whatever  delivered.  But  when  such  an  one 
comes  with  "  War  and  Peace,"  he  comes  after  that 
new  message  which  had  been  already  delivered  by 
Pushkin;  and  this  stands  fast,  however  far  Tolstoy 
may  go  in  the  development  of  that  message  already 
delivered  before  him  by  another  genius.  I  hold  this 
to  be  very  important.  But  I  can't  explain  myself  at 
all  fully  in  these  few  lines.  .  .  . 


LV 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

DRESDEN, 

March  25  [April  6],  1870. 

[The  first  half  of  the  letter  deals  with  business 
matters.] 

The  job  for  the  Roussky  Viestnik  will  not  particu- 
larly tax  me;  but  I  have  promised  the  Sarya  a  real 
piece  of  work,  and  I  want  really  to  do  it.  This  latter 
has  been  maturing  in  my  brain  for  two  years  past. 
It  is  the  same  idea  about  which  I  have  already  once 
written  to  you.  This  will  be  my  last  novel;  it  will 
be  as  long  as  "  War  and  Peace."  I  know  from  our 
one-time  talks  that  you  will  approve  the  idea.  The 
novel  will  consist  of  five  longish  tales  (each  of  fifteen 
sheets;  in  these  two  years  my  plan  has  fully  ripened). 
The  tales  are  complete  in  themselves,  so  that  one 
could  even  sell  them  separately.  The  first  I  intend 
for  Kachpirev ;  its  action  lies  in  the  'forties.  (The  title 
of  the  whole  book  will  be  "  The  Life-Story  of  a  Great 


JET.  48]  "  THE  BROTHERS  KARAMAZOV  "  181 

Sinner,"  but  each  part  will  have  its  own  title  as 
well.)  The  fundamental  idea,  which  will  run  through 
each  of  the  parts,  is  one  that  has  tormented  me,  con- 
sciously and  unconsciously,  all  my  life  long:  it  is  the 
question  of  the  existence  of  God.  The  hero  is  now 
an  atheist,  now  a  believer,  now  a  fanatic  and  sectarian, 
and  then  again  an  atheist.  The  second  story  will 
have  for  its  setting  a  monastery.  On  this  second  story 
I  base  all  my  hopes.  Perhaps  people  \vifl  admit  at 
last  that  I  can  write  something  but  pure  nonsense. 
(I  will  confide  to  you  alone,  Apollon  Nikolayevitch, 
that  in  this  second  story  the  principal  character 
is  to  be  taken  from  Tikhon  Zadonsky;  of  course 
under  another  name,  but  also  as  a  Bishop  who  has 
withdrawn  to  a  monastery  for  repose.)  A  thirteen- 
yeared  boy,  who  has  been  concerned  in  a  serious 
crime,  a  lad  intellectually  mature,  but  utterly  corrupt 
(I  know  the  type),  and  the  future  hero  of  the  novel 
as  a  whole — has  been  sent  by  his  parents  to  the 
monastery  to  be  there  brought  up.  The  little 
wolf,  the  little  Nihilist,  there  comes  in  contact  with 
Tikhon.  In  the  same  monastery  is  to  be  found 
Tchaadayev1  (also  of  course  under  another  name). 
Why  should  not  Tchaadayev  have  spent  a  year  in 
a  monastery  ?  Let  us  suppose  that  Tchaadayev, 
after  that  first  article  which  caused  him  to  be  weekly 
examined  by  physicians  as  to  his  state  of  mind,  had 
been  unable  to  refrain  from  publishing  a  second 
article  somewhere  abroad  (say,  in  France ;  it  is  quite 
conceivable;  and  for  this  article  he  gets  banished  for 
a  year  to  a  monastery.  But  he  is  allowed  to  receive 
visitors  there — for  example,  Bielinsky,  Granovsky, 
even  Pushkin,  and  others.  (Of  course  it  is  not  to  be 

1  Pyotr  Yakovlevitch  Tchaadayev  (1796-1856),  a  philo- 
sopher, author  of  "  Philosophical  Letters,"  after  the  publica- 
tion of  which  he  was  declared  by  Nicholas  I.  to  be  mad. 


182  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LV 

the  actual  Tchaadayev;  I  only  want  to  display  the 
type.)  At  the  monastery  there  is  also  a  Paul  the 
Prussian,  a  Golubov,  and  a  Monk  Parfeny.  (I  know 
the  milieu  through  and  through ;  I  have  been  familiar 
with  the  Russian  monasteries  from  childhood.)  But 
the  principal  figures  are  to  be  Tikhon  and  the  boy. 
For  God's  sake,  don't  tell  anyone  what  this  second 
part  is  to  be  about.  Usually  I  never  tell  anybody 
about  my  work  beforehand;  only  to  you  would  I 
whisper  it;  whatever  others  may  think  of  the  value 
of  my  plan,  to  me  it  is  worth  more  than  aught  else. 
Don't  talk  to  anybody  about  Tikhon.  I  have  told 
Strachov  about  the  monastery  idea,  but  said  no  word 
about  the  figure  of  Tikhon.  Perhaps  I  shall  succeed 
in  creating  a  majestic,  authentic  saint.  Mine  is  to  be 
quite  different  from  Kostanchoglov,1  and  also  from 
the  German  in  Gontscharov's  "  Oblomov."  I  shall 
probably  not  create  at  all,  but  present  the  real  Tikhon, 
who  has  long  been  shrined  in  my  heart.  But  even  a 
close,  faithful  delineation  I  should  regard  it  as  a  great 
achievement  to  succeed  in.  Don't  talk  to  anyone 
about  it.  Now,  to  write  this  second  part  of  the  novel, 
which  goes  on  in  the  monastery,  I  must  absolute!}' 
be  in  Russia.  Ah,  if  I  could  but  bring  it  off  !  The 
first  part  deals  with  the  childhood  of  my  hero.  Of 
course,  there  are  other  characters  besides  children; 
it  is  a  real  novel.  This  first  part,  fortunately,  I  can 
write  even  here;  I  shall  offer  it  to  the  Sarya.  Will 
they  not  refuse  it,  though  ?  But  a  thousand  roubles 
is  no  very  excessive  fee.  .  .  . 

Nihilism  isn't  worth  talking  about.  Only  wait 
until  this  scum  that  has  cut  itself  adrift  from  Russia, 
is  quite  played-out.  And,  do  you  know,  I  really 
think  that  many  of  the  young  scoundrels,  decadent 
boys  that  they  are,  will  sooner  or  later  turn  over 
1  In  Gogol's  "  Dead  Souls." 


2ET.  48]        LONGING  FOR  RUSSIA  183 

a  new  leaf,  and  be  metamorphosed  into  decent, 
thorough-going  Russians  ?  And  the  rest  may  go 
rot.  But  even  they  will  finally  hold  their  tongues, 
for  sheer  impotence.  What  scoundrels  the}'  are, 
though  !  .  .  . 

LVI 

To  his  Sister  Vera,  and  his  Niece  Sofia 
Alexandrovna 

DRESDEN, 
May  7  [19],  1870. 

MY  DEAR  FRIENDS  SONETCHKA  AND  VEROTCHKA, 

I  have  not  written  to  you  for  much  too  long  a 

period;  the  reason  is  not  my  laziness,  but  lies  in  my 

many  recent  anxieties  and  my  generally  depressed 

condition  of  mind. 

We  are  still  living  in  Dresden,  and  are  at  present 
comfortable  enough.  Little  Lyuba  is  a  dear  and 
most  healthy  child.  As  we  have  already  lost  a  child, 
we  are  very  anxious  about  this  one.  Anya  is  nursing, 
and  it  is  clear  that  she  finds  it  more  and  more  trying 
to  her  every  day.  She  has  grown  very  thin  and 
weak,  and  is  consumed  with  home-sickness.  I  too 
long  frightfully  for  Russia,  and  from  that  longing 
arises  my  constant  enervation.  My  affairs  are  in 
the  worst  conceivable  condition.  We  certainly  have 
quite  enough  to  live  on,  but  we  cannot  even  think  of 
returning  to  Russia.  Nevertheless,  I  must  get  back 
somehow,  for  life  here  is  to  me  quite  unbearable.  To 
go  from  here  to  Petersburg,  we  should  have  to  make 
a  move  before  October;  later  it  will  be  too  cold,  and 
the  little  one  might  easily  catch  a  chill.  Moreover,  to 
pay  our  debts  here  before  we  leave,  we  should  need  at 
least  three  hundred  roubles ;  besides  that,  the  travel- 
ling expenses  for  our  whole  family  and  for  the  instal- 


184  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LVI 

ment  in  Petersburg :  the  whole  amounts  to  no  small 
sum.     But  this  is  not  all;  the  principal  thing  is  the 
creditors.     I   owe  them,   with  the  interest,    nearly 
6,000  roubles.     Less  than   a  third — that   is,    2,000 
roubles — I  cannot  offer  them,  if  they  are  to  consent 
to  wait  a  year  for  the  rest.     But  they  would  not  agree 
to  do  that,  even  if  I  paid  this  third.     They  are  all 
furious  with  me,  and  would  certainly  come  down 
without  mercy,  in  order  to  punish  me.     So  you  can 
reckon  for  yourself  what  a  sum  I  must  have  to  settle 
all,  and  be  able  to  come  back :  that  is,  from  three  to 
four  thousand  roubles  at  least.    Where  am  I  to  get 
such  an  amount  ?     The  one  thing  I  can  build  on  is 
my  literary  labour.     Three  years  ago,  when  I  left 
Russia,  I  cherished  the  same  hopes.     I  had  just  had 
great  success  with  a  novel,  and  it  is  therefore  compre- 
hensible that  I  should  still  be  filled  with  the  hope  of 
writing  another  which  will  enable  me  to  get  rid  of  all 
my  debts  in  a  year  or  so.    But  at  that  time  I  paid 
three  creditors  seven  thousand  roubles  all  of  a  sudden, 
and  this  enraged  the  others,  who  came  down  on  me, 
demanding  to  know  why  I  had  satisfied  those  three 
creditors,  and  not  the  rest  as  well.     They  indicted 
me,  and  I  took  to  my  heels,  but  in  the  hope  that  I 
should  manage  to  write  another  novel  in  a  year  and 
pay  off  all  my  debts.    That  hope  was  mistaken.     The 
novel  has  been  a  failure,  and  in  addition  there  has 
happened  something  that  I  could  not  have  foreseen: 
namely,  that  through  being  obliged  to  live  away  from 
Russia  for  so  long,  I  am  losing  the  capacity  to  write 
decently  at  all,  and  so  could  hope  nothing  from  a 
fresh  attempt  at  a  novel.     (These  difficulties  are  less 
of  an  intellectual  than  a  material  nature :  for  example, 
while  I  live  abroad  I  can  have  no  personal  outlook 
upon  the  most  ordinary  events  of  our  period.)     I  have 
a  plan  for  a  new  novel,  the  success  of  which  I  con- 


ST.  48]  "  THE  POSSESSED "  185 

sider  an  absolute  certainty;  but  I  cannot  decide  to 
write  it  here,  and  am  obliged  to  postpone  it.  For  the 
moment  I  am  writing  a  very  odd  story1  for  the 
Roussky  Viestnik]  I  have  to  work  off  an  advance 
from  them. 

You  remember,  I  daresay,  my  dear  Sonetchka, 
what  you  wrote  with  regard  to  the  novel  which  I 
did  over  here :  that  you  wondered  how  I  could  under- 
take and  bind  myself  to  get  such  a  work  done  in  a 
fixed  space  of  time.  But  the  work  which  I  am  now 
writing  for  the  Roussky  Viestnik  is  a  good  deal  more 
arduous  still.  I  have  to  cram  into  twenty-five  sheets 
material  which  ought  to  take  at  least  fifty,  and  that 
only  because  it  must  be  finished  by  a  certain  date; 
and  I  have  to  do  this,  because  for  the  moment,  while 
I  am  living  abroad,  I  can't  write  anything  else.  The 
people  at  the  Sarya  office  praised  beyond  measure  a 
little  story  that  I  published  in  that  journal.  Even 
the  newspaper  critics  (on  the  Golos,  the  Peterbourg- 
skaya  Listok,2  etc.)  were  most  benevolent.  But 
you  will  hardly  believe  how  it  revolts  me  to  write 
that  kind  of  thing  when  I  have  so  many  fully  formed 
ideas  in  my  mind:  that  is,  to  write  something  quite 
different  from  what  I  want  to  be  at.  You  can  surely 
understand,  Sonetchka,  that  that  alone  is  great 
torment,  and  added  to  it  is  the  desperate  state  of  my 
affairs.  Since  I  have  been  absent  from  Petersburg, 
all  my  business  matters  and  connections  there  have 
been  frightfully  neglected  (although  "  The  Idiot  "  did 
miss  fire,  several  publishers  wanted  to  buy  the  rights 
of  the  second  edition  from  me;  they  offered  me 
relatively  good  terms — from  a  thousand  five  hundred 
to  two  thousand  roubles).  But  all  these  projects  fell 
through,  for  I  had  no  one  in  Petersburg  to  look  after 
the  business  for  me.  Well,  that's  how  it  stands  with 
i  "  The  Possessed."  3  Petersburg  News. 


186  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [LVII 

me.  And  I  say  nothing  of  how  very  much  I  grieve 
for  Anna  Grigorovna,  longing  so  terribly  as  she  does 
for  Russia.  I  can't  possibly  tell  everything  in  this 
letter.  But  I  have  finally  resolved  to  return  to 
Russia,  in  any  event,  in  the  autumn  of  this  year,  and 
shall  quite  decidedly  get  it  done  somehow.  Of  course, 
too,  I  shall  come  to  Moscow  (for  business  reasons,  if 
for.  no  others) ;  that  is,  if  the  creditors  do  not  put  me 
in  a  Petersburg  prison  so  soon  as  I  arrive  there.  In 
any  case  I  hope  to  see  you  all  again,  my  dears,  at  the 
beginning  of  the  winter. 

In  truest  love: 
FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY,  ANYA,  AND  LYUBA. 


LVII 

To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

DRESDEN, 
June  ii  [23],  1870. 

[In  the  first  half  of  the  letter  Dostoevsky  complains 
of  Kachpirev,  who  has  not  agreed  to  his  proposal 
with  regard  to  "  The  Life-Story  of  a  Great  Sinner."] 

By  chance  the  Viestnik  Europi1  for  the  current 
year  fell  into  my  hands,  and  I  looked  through  all  the 
numbers  that  have  appeared.  I  was  amazed.  How 
can  this  unbelievably  mediocre  journal  (which  at  its 
best  can  only  be  classed  with  the  Northern  Bee  of 
Bulgaria)  have  such  vogue  with  us  (6,000  copies  in 
the  second  edition  !).  It  is  because  they  know  their 
business.  How  deftly  they  adopt  the  popular  tone  ! 
An  insipid  pattern  for  Liberalism !  These  are  the 
things  we  like.  But  the  paper  is,  nevertheless,  very 
well  managed.  It  appears  punctually  each  month, 

1  The  European  Gazette;  a  monthly. 


JJT.  48]        TURGENEV  PLAYED-OUT  187 

and  has  a  varied  staff  of  contributors.  I  read,  among 
other  things,  "  The  Execution  of  Tropmann,"  by 
Turgenev.  You  may  be  of  a  different  opinion,  Nikolay 
Nikolayevitch,  bi£  I  was  infuriated  by  that  preten- 
tious and  paltry  piece  of  pathos.  Why  does  he  keep 
on  explaining  that  he  was  very  wrong  to  look  on  at 
the  execution  ?  Certainly  he  was,  if  the  whole  thing 
was  a  mere  drama  for  him;  but  the  sons  of  men 
have  not  the  right  to  turn  away  from  anything  that 
happens  on  the  earth  and  ignore  it ;  no,  on  the  highest 
moral  grounds  they  have  not.  Homo  sum  et  nihil 
humani  .  .  .  and  so  forth.  Peculiarly  comic  is  it, 
when  at  the  last  moment  he  does  turn  away,  and 
thus  avoids  seeing  the  actual  execution.  "  Look  you, 
gentlemen,  of  what  delicate  upbringing  I  am  !  I 
could  not  endure  that  sight !"  All  through,  he 
betrays  himself.  The  most  definite  impression  that 
one  gets  from  the  whole  article  is  that  he  is  desper- 
ately concerned  with  himself  and  his  own  peace  of 
mind,  even  when  it  comes  to  the  cutting  off  of  heads. 
Oh,  I  spit  upon  the  whole  business.  I  am  fairly  sick 
of  folk.  I  consider  Turgenev  the  most  played-out 
of  all  played-out  Russian  writers,  whatever  you, 
Nikolay  Nikolayevitch,  may  write  in  Turgenev's 
favour:  please,  don't  take  it  ill  of  me.  .  .  . 


LVIII 

To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

DRESDEN, 
July  2  [14],  1870. 
MY  DEAR  SONETCHKA, 

I  really  wished  to  answer  your  last  letter  in- 
stantly, but  have  again  delayed  my  reply.  Blame 
my  work  and  various  anxieties  for  that.  And  besides, 


i88  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [LVIII 

you,  like  all  my  Moscow  friends,  have  the  bad  habit 
of  giving  no  address  in  your  letters. 

From  your  letter  I  conclude  that  you  have  moved. 
Where  then  am  I  to  address  you  ?  You  should,  you 
know,  reckon  also  with  the  possibility  of  my  having 
mislaid  or  lost  the  letter  in  which  you  gave  your  last 
address.  As  it  is,  I  have  spent  three  days  looking 
through  all  my  correspondence  for  the  last  three 
years.  But  I  happen  to  remember  your  old  address, 
and  there  I  send  this  letter.  Will  it  reach  you,  I 
wonder  ?  Such  doubts  discourage  me.  I  beseech 
you  not  to  write  your  letters,  at  any  rate  not  those 
to  me,  in  the  woman's  way — that  is,  not  to  omit  date 
and  address ;  by  God,  we  shall  manage  better  so  ! 

Your  letter  made  a  very  mournful  impression  on 
me,  dear.  Is  it  really  a  fact  that  if  you  go  into  the 
country,  they  won't  give  you  any  more  translation 
to  do,  even  in  the  autumn  ?  Why  do  you  so  torment 
yourself  ?  You  need  happiness  and  healthy  surround- 
ings. You  work  from  early  morning  till  far  into  the 
night.  You  must  marry.  My  dear  Sonetchka,  for 
Christ's  sake,  don't  be  angry  with  me  for  saying  that. 
Happiness  is  meted  out  to  us  but  once  in  life;  all 
that  comes  afterwards  is  merely  pain.  We  must 
prepare  ourselves  for  this  beforehand,  and  arrange 
our  lives  as  normally  as  possible.  Forgive  me  for 
writing  to  you  in  this  tone,  when  I  have  not  seen 
you  for  three  years.  I  don't  mean  it  for  advice;  it  is 
only  my  most  cherished  desire.  For  I  must  love 
you — I  cannot  help  it  ! 

As  for  my  return  to  Russia,  it  is  of  course  but  a 
possibility  of  the  fancy,  which  may  come  true,  yet 
nevertheless  is  a  mere  dream.  We  shall  see.  And 
as  for  the  rest  of  your  counsels  (with  regard  to  the 
sale  of  the  novel,  the  return  without  money,  in  face 
of  the  possibility  of  being  clapped  into  jail  by  the 


JET.  48]  A  SCOLDING  189 

creditors,  and  so  forth),  I  must  tell  you  that  your 
whole  letter  displays  your  inexperience  and  your 
ignorance  of  the  questions  at  issue.  I  have  been 
occupied  with  literature  for  twenty-five  years,  but 
have  never  yet  known  a  case  of  the  author  himself 
offering  the  booksellers  his  second  edition  (still  less 
through  the  agency  of  strangers,  to  whom  it  matters 
nothing).  If  one  offers  the  wares  one's-self,  one  gets 
only  a  tenth  of  their  value.  But  if  the  publisher, 
that  is  to  say  the  purchaser,  comes  to  one  of  his  own 
accord,  one  gets  ten  times  as  much.  "  The  Idiot  " 
came  too  late ;  it  should  have  appeared  in  earlier  years. 
Then,  as  to  the  creditors,  they  will,  as  sure  as  death, 
imprison  me,  for  therein  lies  their  sole  advantage. 
Believe  me,  these  gentry  know  very  precisely  how 
much  I  can  get  from  the  Roussky  Viestnik  or  the 
Sarya.  They  will  have  me  imprisoned  in  the  hope 
that  one  or  the  other  journal,  or,  if  not,  somebody 
else,  will  get  me  out.  That  is  dead  certain.  No — 
if  I  am  to  come  back,  I  must  do  it  quite  differently. 

I  find  it  very  hard  to  have  to  look  on  and  see 
Anna  Grigorovna  consumed  by  home-sickness  and 
longing  as  she  is.  That  troubles  me  more  than 
aught  else.  The  child  is  healthy,  but  has  not  yet 
been  weaned.  Return  is  now  my  one  fixed  idea. 
If  I  go  on  living  here  much  longer,  I  shall  lose  all 
power  to  earn  anything;  nobody  will  consent  to 
print  me.  In  Russia,  at  the  worst  I  could  edit 
school-books  or  compilations.  Well,  anyhow,  it's 
not  worth  while  wasting  words  upon  this  matter.  I 
shall  most  decidedly  return,  even  if  it  is  to  be  put  in 
jail.  I  should  like  just  to  finish  the  work  that  I  am 
doing  for  the  Roussky  Viestnik,  so  that  I  might  be 
left  in  peace.  And  yet,  as  things  are,  I  can't,  in  any 
case,  get  done  before  Christmas.  The  first  long  half 
of  the  work  I  shall  deliver  to  the  office  in  six  weeks, 


igo  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [LVIII 

and  get  a  little  money.  The  second  half  I  shall  send 
at  the  beginning  of  the  winter,  and  the  third — in 
February.  Printing  will  have  to  begin  in  this  coming 
January.  I  am  afraid  that  they  will  simply  send 
back  my  novel.  I  shall  tell  them  from  the  very  first 
that  I  don't  intend  to  alter  or  take  out  anything  in 
the  book.  The  idea  of  this  novel  seemed  to  me  most 
attractive  at  first,  but  now  I  am  sorry  that  I  ever 
began  it.  Not  that  it  does  not  still  interest  me,  but 
I  should  prefer  to  write  something  else. 

As  often  as  I  write  to  you,  I  feel  what  a  long  space 
of  time  divides  us  from  one  another.  And  by-the-bye, 
there's  another  thing :  I  have  the  most  fervent  desire 
to  take,  before  my  return  to  Russia,  a  trip  to  the  East 
— that  is,  to  Constantinople,  Athens,  the  Archipelago, 
Syria,  Jerusalem,  and  Athos.  This  trip  would  cost  at 
least  1,500  roubles.  But  the  expenses  would  not 
signify:  I  could  cover  them  all  by  writing  a  book 
about  the  visit  to  Jerusalem;  I  know  by  experience 
that  such  books  are  very  popular  nowadays.  But  for 
the  moment  I  have  neither  the  time  nor  the  means ; 
and  yesterday  I  read,  in  an  extra-edition,  that  at  any 
moment  there  may  be  war  between  France  and 
Prussia.  So  much  combustible  material  has  accumu- 
lated everywhere,  that  the  war,  so  soon  as  it  begins, 
must  assume  formidable  dimensions.  God  grant  that 
Russia  may  not  be  mixed  up  in  any  of  the  European 
entanglements ;  we  have  enough  to  do  at  home. 

I  love  you  and  yours  beyond  all  bounds,  and  I  hope 
you  will  believe  that.  Love  me  also  a  little.  I  do 
not  wish  to  die  on  German  soil;  I  want  before  my 
death  to  return  home,  and  there  die. 

My  wife  and  Lyuba  send  kisses.  It  is  very  hot 
here  with  us,  and  yesterday,  after  a  long  respite,  I 
had  an  attack  again.  To-day  my  head  is  quite 
muddled ;  I  feel  as  if  I  were  crazy. 


JST.  48]       AN  "  IRISH  "  POSTSCRIPT  191 

Till  the  next  time,  my  dears — forget  me  not. 
I  embrace  and  kiss  you. 

Your 
FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 

P.S. — If  I  get  no  answer  to  this  letter,  I  shall 
conclude  that  it  has  not  reached  you.  My  address 
is:  Allemagne,  Saxe,  Dresden,  a  M.  Theodore  Dos- 
toevsky,  Post  restante. 

LIX 

To  his  Niece  Sofia  Alexandrovna 

DRESDEN, 
August  17  [29],  1870. 

MY  DEAR  FRIEND  SONETCHKA, 

Forgive  me  for  not  having  at  once  answered 
on  receiving  your  letter  of  August  3  (I  got  your 
short  letter  of  July  28  also).  I  have,  often,  so  many 
anxieties  and  disagreeables  that  I  have  not  the  energy 
to  begin  anything,  least  of  all  a  letter.  Only  my 
work  has  to  be  done  in  any  condition  of  mind — and 
I  do  it;  but  there  are  times  when  I  am  not  equal 
even  to  that,  and  then  I  abandon  all.  My  life  is  not 
an  easy  one.  This  time  I  want  to  write  to  you  about 
my  situation:  to  be  sure  I  don't  like  letter-writing, 
for  I  find  it  hard,  after  so  many  years  of  separation, 
to  write  of  things  that  are  of  consequence  to  me,  and 
especially  to  write  in  such  a  way  that  you  will  under- 
stand me.  Lively  letters  one  can  write  only  to  those 
with  whom  one  has  no  relations  of  affection. 

The  most  important  thing  is  that  now  I  must 
return  to  Russia.  That  idea  is  simple  enough;  but 
I  couldn't  possibly  describe  to  you  in  full  detail  all 
the  torments  and  disadvantages  that  I  have  to  endure 
in  these  foreign  lands;  of  the  moral  torments  (the 


192  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LIX 

longing  for  home,  the  necessity  of  being  in  touch  with 
Russian  life  which  as  a  writer  is  essential  to  me,  etc.), 
I  won't  at  all  speak.  How  unbearable  are  the 
anxieties  about  my  family  alone  !  I  see  clearly  how 
Anya  longs  for  home,  and  how  terribly  she  languishes 
here.  At  home,  too,  I  could  earn  much  more  money ; 
here  we  are  absolutely  impoverished.  We  have  just 
enough  to  live  on,  it  is  true;  but  we  cannot  keep  a 
nursemaid.  A  nursemaid  here  requires  a  room  to 
herself,  her  washing,  and  high  wages,  three  meals  a 
day,  and  a  certain  amount  of  beer  (of  course  only 
fronix  foreigners).  Anya  is  nursing  the  baby,  and 
never  gets  a  full  night's  rest.  She  has  no  amuse- 
ments of  any  kind,  and  usually  not  one  moment  to 
herself.  Also  her  state  of  health  leaves  something  to 
be  desired.  Why  do  I  tell  you  all  this,  though  ? 
There  are  hundreds  of  similar  little  troubles,  and 
together  they  make  up  a  heavy  burden.  How  gladly, 
for  example,  would  I  go  to  Petersburg  this  autumn 
with  my  wife  and  child  (as  I  pictured  to  myself  early 
in  the  year) ;  but  to  get  away  from  here  and  travel  to 
Russia  I  must  have  not  less  than  2,000  roubles;  nor 
am  I  therein  reckoning  my  debts — I  need  so  much  as 
that  for  the  journey  alone.  Oh  yes  !  I  can  see  you 
shrugging  your  shoulders  and  asking:  "Why  so 
much?  What  is  the  good  of  this  exaggeration?" 
Do,  my  dear,  for  Heaven's  sake,  get  out  of  your 
habit  of  judging  other  people's  affairs  without  know- 
ing all  the  circumstances.  Two  thousand  roubles  are 
absolutely  necessary  to  do  the  journey,  and  to  instal 
ourselves  in  Petersburg.  You  may  believe  me  when 
I  say  it.  Where  am  I  to  get  hold  of  the  money  ? 
And  now  we  must  be  getting  the  child  weaned,  and 
vaccinated  too.  Only  think  what  a  fresh  crop  of  cares 
for  Anya,  who  is  already  run-down  and  feeble.  I  have 
to  look  on  at  it  all,  and  am  nearly  driven  out  of  my 


JET.  48]     THE  "  ROUSSKY  VIESTNIK  "         193 

senses.  And  if  I  do  get  the  money  for  the  journey 
in  three  months,  the  winter  will  just  be  upon  us,  and 
one  can't  drag  an  infant  over  a  thousand  versts  in 
frosty  weather.  Consequently  we  shall  have  to  wait 
till  early  spring.  And  shall  we  even  then  have 
money  ?  You  must  know  that  we  can  scarcely 
manage  on  our  income  here,  and  have  to  go  into 
debt  for  half  we  need.  But  enough  of  that.  I  want 
to  talk  of  other  things  now,  though  they're  all  con- 
nected with  the  principal  subject. 

I  forget  whether  I've  written  to  you  about  my 
difficulties  with  the  Roussky  Viestnik ;  the  fact  is 
that  at  the  end  of  last  year  I  published  a  story  in  the 
Sarya,  while  I  still  had  to  work  off  an  advance  from 
the  Roussky  Viestnik;  it  was  a  year  since  I  had 
promised  them  the  work.  Did  I  tell  you  how  it 
came  about  ?  How  my  novel  got  unexpectedly  long, 
and  how  I  suddenly  perceived  that  there  was  no  time 
to  get  anything  written  by  the  beginning  of  the  year 
for  the  Roussky  Viestnik  ?  They  made  me  no  reply 
about  the  matter,  but  ceased  to  send  money.  At 
the  beginning  of  this  year  I  wrote  to  Katkov  that 
I  would  deliver  the  novel  chapter  by  chapter  from 
June,  so  that  they  could  print  at  the  end  of  the  year. 
Then  I  worked  at  the  utmost  limit  of  my  energy  and 
my  powers;  I  knew  that  if  I  were  to  break  off  my 
literary  connection  with  the  Roussky  Viestnik,  I 
should  have  no  means  of  livelihood  here  abroad  (for 
it  is  very  difficult  to  enter  into  fresh  relations  with 
another  journal  from  a  distance).  And  besides  I  was 
frightfully  distressed  by  the  thought  that  they  were 
calling  me  a  rogue  at  the  office,  when  they  had 
always  treated  me  so  extraordinarily  well.  The  novel 
at  which  I  was  working  was  very  big,  very  original, 
but  the  idea  was  a  little  new  to  me.  I  needed  great 
self-confidence  to  get  equal  with  that  idea — and  as 

13 


194  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LIX 

a  matter  of  fact  I  did  not  get  equal  with  it,  and  the 
book  went  wrong.  I  pushed  on  slowly,  feeling  that 
there  was  something  amiss  with  the  whole  thing,  but 
unable  to  discover  what  it  was.  In  July,  directly 
after  my  last  letter  to  you,  I  had  a  whole  succession 
of  epileptic  fits  (they  recurred  every  week) .  I  was  so 
reduced  by  them  that  for  a  whole  month  I  dared  not 
even  think  of  working ;  work  might  have  been  actually 
dangerous  to  me.  And  when,  a  fortnight  ago,  I  set  to 
again,  I  suddenly  saw  quite  clearly  why  the  book  had 
gone  so  ill,  and  where  the  error  lay ;  as  if  possessed  by 
sudden  inspiration,!  saw  in  an  instant  a  quite  new  plan 
for  the  book.  I  had  to  alter  the  whole  thing  radically ; 
without  much  hesitation  I  struck  out  all  that  I  had 
written  up  to  that  time  (about  fifteen  sheets  in  all), 
and  began  again  at  the  first  page.  The  labour  of 
a  whole  year  was  destroyed.  If  you  only  knew, 
Sonetchka,  how  grievous  it  is  to  be  a  writer — that  is, 
to  bear  a  writer's  lot  !  Do  you  know  that  I  am  abso- 
lutely aware  that  if  I  could  have  spent  two  or  three 
years  at  that  book — as  Turgenev,  Gontscharov,  and 
Tolstoy  can — I  could  have  produced  a  work  of  which 
men  would  still  be  talking  in  a  hundred  years  from 
now  !  I  am  not  boasting;  ask  your  conscience  and 
your  memory  if  I  have  ever  yet  boasted.  The  idea 
is  so  good  and  so  significant  that  I  take  off  my  own 
hat  to  it.  But  what  will  come  to  pass  ?  I  know  very 
well :  I  shall  get  it  done  in  eight  or  nine  months,  and 
utterly  spoilt.  Such  a  work  demands  at  least  two 
or  three  years.  (It  will,  even  so,  be  very  extensive — 
as  much  as  thirty-five  sheets.)  Separate  details  and 
characters  will  perhaps  come  not  so  badly  off;  but 
only  sketchily.  Much  will  be  "  half-baked, "  and  much 
a  great  deal  too  drawn-out.  Innumerable  beauties  I 
shall  have  altogether  to  renounce  getting  in,  for 
inspiration  depends  in  many  respects  upon  the  time 


JET.  48]  WAR  195 

one  has  at  disposal.  And  yet  I  am  setting  to  work  ! 
It  is  terrible ;  it  is  like  a  determined  suicide  !  But 
it's  not  even  the  most  important  thing:  the  most 
important  thing  is  that  all  my  calculations  are  upset. 
At  the  beginning  of  the  year,  I  was  confidently  hoping 
that  I  should  succeed  in  sending  a  considerable  portion 
of  the  novel  to  the  Roussky  Viestnik  by  the  first  of 
August,  and  so  bettering  my  situation.  What  am 
I  to  do  now  ?  At  earliest  I  shall  be  able  to  deliver 
a  small  portion  by  September  ist  (I  wanted  to  send 
a  lot  at  once,  so  as  to  have  an  excuse  for  requesting 
an  advance) ;  now  I  am  ashamed  to  ask  for  money ; 
the  first  part  (it  is  to  be  in  five  parts)  will  consist  of 
only  seven  sheets — how  can  I  ask  for  an  advance  ? 
All  my  calculations  having  thus  proved  false,  I  don't 
know  at  this  moment  what  on  earth  I  am  to  live 
on.  And  it  is  in  such  a  state  of  mind  that  I  must 
labour  ! 

[He  writes  further  of  his  somewhat  strained  rela- 
tions with  the  Roussky  Viestnik.] 

All  this  worries  me,  and  deprives  me  of  the  tran- 
quillity that  I  need  for  the  work;  and  there  are 
other  things  besides,  which  I  do  not  mention  at  all. 
With  this  beginning  of  the  war,  all  credit  has  very 
nearly  ceased,  so  that  living  is  much  more  difficult. 
But  I  shall  get  through  it  somehow  or  other.  The 
most  important  thing,  though,  is  health;  and  my 
state  has  considerably  worsened. 

With  your  views  on  war  I  can't  possibly  agree. 
Without  war,  people  grow  torpid  in  riches  and  com- 
fort, and  lose  the  power  of  thinking  and  feeling 
nobly ;  they  get  brutal,  and  fall  back  into  barbarism. 
I  am  not  speaking  of  individuals,  but  of  whole  races. 
Without  pain,  one  comprehends  not  joy.  Ideals  are 
purified  by  suffering,  as  gold  is  by  fire.  Mankind 


196  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [ox 

must  strive  for  his  Heaven.  France  has  of  late 
become  brutalized  and  degraded.  A  passing  trial 
will  do  her  no  harm;  France  will  be  able  to  endure 
it,  and  then  will  awake  to  a  new  life,  and  new  ideas. 
But  hitherto  France  has  been  dominated  on  the  one 
hand  by  old  formulas,  and  on  the  other  by  craven- 
heartedness  and  pleasure-seeking. 

The  Napoleonic  dynasty  will  be  impossible  hence- 
forth. New  life  and  reformation  of  the  country  are 
so  important  that  even  the  bitterest  trials  are  nothing 
by  comparison.  Do  you  not  recognize  God's  hand 
in  it  ? 

Also  our  politics  of  the  last  seventy  years — I  mean 
Russian,  European,  and  German  politics — must 
inevitably  alter.  The  Germans  will  at  last  show 
us  their  real  faces.  Everywhere  in  Europe  great 
changes  must  inevitably  come — and  of  their  own 
accord. 

What  new  life  will  be  called  forth  everywhere  by 
this  mighty  shock  !  For  want  of  great  conceptions, 
even  science  has  sunk  into  arid  materialism;  what 
does  a  passing  blow  signify  in  face  of  that  ? 

You  write  "  People  kill  and  wound,  and  then 
nurse  the  wounded."  Do  but  think  of  the  noblest 
words  that  ever  yet  were  spoken:  "  I  desire  love,  and 
not  sacrifice."  At  this  moment,  or  at  any  rate  in  a 
few  days,  there  will,  I  believe,  be  much  decided.  Who 
betrayed  whom  ?  Who  made  a  strategical  error  ? 
The  Germans  or  the  French  ?  I  believe,  the 
Germans. 

Or  rather,  ten  days  ago  I  was  of  that  opinion. 
But  now  it  appears  to  me  that  the  Germans  will  keep 
the  upper  hand  a  while  longer;  the  French  are  on 
the  verge  of  an  abyss,  into  which  they  are  bound 
to  plunge  for  a  time — by  that  I  mean  the  dynastic 
interests  to  which  the  fatherland  is  being  sacri- 


&T.  48]  HIS  CREDITORS  197 

ficed.  I  could  tell  you  much  of  German  opinion, 
which  I  can  observe  here,  and  which  is  very  signi- 
ficant in  the  present  political  crisis;  but  I  have  no 
time. 

I  greet  you  all.  Remember  me  to  everyone.  I 
embrace  you  from  my  heart;  do  not  forget  that  no 
one  is  so  cordially  inclined  to  you  as  I  am.  I  am 
glad  that  I  have  been  able  to  write  to  you.  Write 
to  me,  don't  forget  me;  I  am  now  setting  to  again 
at  my  forced  labour. 

With  heart  and  soul,  your  FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 

When  I  think  of  the  Petersburg  relatives,  my 
heart  aches.  I  can  send  them  nothing  before  the 
beginning  of  next  year,  though  they  are  in  great 
distress.  This  weighs  heavily  on  my  conscience;  I 
had  promised  to  aid  them;  about  Pasha  I  am  par- 
ticularly grieved. 

P.S. — You  don't  understand  my  position  with  the 
creditors;  that  is  why  you  think  it  would  not  be 
worth  their  while  to  put  me  in  prison.  On  the 
contrary :  they  will  quite  certainly  have  me  arrested, 
for  in  many  respects  it  would  be  of  great  advantage 
to  them.  I  forget  whether  I  told  you  that  I  have 
hopes  of  procuring,  immediately  after  my  arrival  in 
Petersburg,  the  use  of  about  5,000  roubles  for  about 
three  years.  That  would  save  me  from  imprisonment. 
Nor  is  such  a  hope  entirely  without  foundation.  But 
I  must  do  the  business  personally;  if  I  attempted  it 
from  here,  I  might  spoil  all.  The  plan  has  nothing 
to  do  with  my  literary  activities.  At  the  same  time, 
if  my  present  novel  should  make  a  success,  my  hopes 
for  these  5,000  roubles  would  be  sensibly  improved. 
This  is  all  between  ourselves. 

Till  next  time,  my  dears. 

Your 
DOSTOEVSKY. 


198  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LX 

LX 

To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

DRESDEN, 
October  g  [21],  1870. 

I  have  not  written  to  you  till  now,  because  I  have 
been  uninterruptedly  occupied  with  the  novel  for  the 
Roussky  Viestnik.  The  work  was  going  so  badly,  and 
I  had  to  re-write  so  much,  that  at  last  I  vowed  to 
myself  that  I  would  read  nothing  and  write  nothing, 
and  hardly  even  raise  my  head  from  my  desk,  until  I 
had  accomplished  what  I  had  set  myself  to  do.  And 
I  am  only  at  the  beginning  now  !  It  is  true  that  many 
scenes  belonging  to  the  middle  of  the  novel  are  ready 
written,  and  separate  bits  of  what  I  have  rejected  I 
shall  still  be  able  to  use.  Nevertheless,  I  am  still  at 
work  on  the  earliest  chapters.  That  is  a  bad  omen, 
and  yet  I  mean  to  make  the  thing  as  good  as  may  be. 
The  truth  is  that  the  tone  and  style  of  a  story  must 
make  themselves.  But  true  as  that  is,  one  occasion- 
ally loses  one's  note,  and  has  to  find  it  again.  In  a 
word:  none  of  my  works  has  given  me  so  much 
trouble  as  this  one.  At  the  beginning,  that  is  at  the 
end  of  last  year,  I  thought  the  novel  very  "  made  " 
and  artificial,  and  rather  scorned  it.  But  later  I  was 
overtaken  by  real  enthusiasm,  I  fell  in  love  with  my 
work  of  a  sudden,  and  made  a  big  effort  to  get  all 
that  I  had  written  into  good  trim.  Then,  in  the 
summer,  came  a  transformation:  up  started  a  new, 
vital  character,  who  insisted  on  being  the  real  hero  of 
the  book ;  the  original  hero  (a  most  interesting  figure, 
but  not  worthy  to  be  called  a  hero)  fell  into  the 
background.  The  new  one  so  inspired  me  that  I 
once  more  began  to  go  over  the  whole  afresh.  And 


JST.  49]  "  THE  POSSESSED "  199 

now,  when  I  have  already  sent  the  beginning  to 
the  office  of  the  Roussky  Viestnik,  I  am  suddenly 
possessed  with  terror — I  fear  that  I  am  not  equal  to 
the  theme  I  have  chosen.  This  dread  torments  me 
horribly.  And  yet  I  have  not  arbitrarily  dragged 
in  my  hero.  I  arranged  for  his  entire  role  in  the 
synopsis  of  the  book  (I  prepared  a  synopsis  in  several 
sheets,  and  sketched  therein  the  entire  action,  though 
without  the  dialogues  and  comments).  Therefore  I 
hope  that  I  may  still  bring  off  this  hero,  and  even 
make  him  a  quite  new  and  original  figure;  I  hope 
and  fear  simultaneously.  For  it  is  really  time  that  I 
wrote  something  important  at  last.  Perhaps  it  will 
all  burst  up  like  a  soap-bubble.  But  come  what  come 
will,  I  must  write ;  the  many  re-fashionings  have  lost 
me  much  time,  and  I  have  very  little  ready.  .  .  . 

[The  rest  is  concerned  with  journalism  and  the 
Sarya.] 

LXI 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

DRESDEN, 
December  15  [27],  1870. 

I  have  undertaken  a  task  to  which  my  powers  are 
not  equal.  I  attacked  a  big  novel  (a  novel  "  with  a 
purpose  " — most  unusual  for  me),  and  at  first  I 
thought  I  should  manage  it  quite  easily.  But  what 
has  been  the  issue  ?  When  I  had  tried  about  ten 
settings,  and  saw  what  the  theme  demanded,  I  got 
very  much  out  of  heart  with  the  thing.  The  first 
part  I  finished  because  I  simply  had  to  (it  is  very 
long,  about  ten  sheets ;  and  there  are  to  be  four  parts 
in  all),  and  sent  it  off.  I  believe  that  thjat  first  part 
is  empty  and  quite  ineffective.  From  it  the  reader 


200  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXII 

can't  at  all  perceive  what  I'm  aiming  at,  or  how  the 
action  is  to  develop.  The  Rotissky  Viestnik  people 
expressed  themselves  quite  flatteringly  about  this 
beginning.  The  novel  is  called  "  The  Possessed  " 
(they  are  the  same  "  possessed  "  about  whom  I  wrote 
to  you  before),  and  has  a  motto  from  the  Gospels.  I 
want  to  speak  out  quite  openly  in  this  book,  with  no 
ogling  of  the  younger  generation.  I  can't  possibly 
say  all  I  should  like  in  a  letter. 

[He  then  speaks  of  his  account  with  the  publisher 
Stellovsky.] 

LXII 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

DRESDEN, 
December  30,  1870. 

Yes,  I  am  resolute  to  return,  and  shall  certainly  be 
in  Petersburg  early  in  the  year.  Here,  I  am  con- 
stantly in  such  a  frightful  state  of  mind  that  I  can 
hardly  write  at  all.  Work  is  dreadfully  difficult  to 
me.  I  follow  Russian  and  German  happenings  with 
feverish  interest ;  I  have  been  through  much  in  these 
four  years.  It  has  been  a  strenuous,  if  a  lonely, 
existence.  Whatever  God  shall  send  me  in  the 
future,  I  will  humbly  accept.  My  family,  too, 
weighs  heavily  on  my  mind.  In  a  word,  I  need 
human  intercourse. 

Strachov  has  written  to  me  that  everything  in  our 
society  is  still  fearfully  puerile  and  crude.  If  you 
knew  how  acutely  one  realizes  that  from  here  !  But 
if  you  knew,  besides,  what  a  deep-drawn  repulsion, 
almost  approaching  hatred,  I  have  conceived  for  the 
whole  of  Western  Europe  during  these  four  years  ! 

My  God,  how  terrible  are  our  prepossessions  with 


JET.  49]  1870  IN  DRESDEN  201 

regard  to  foreign  countries  !  Are  Russians  simple- 
tons, then,  that  they  can  believe  it  is  through  their 
schooling  that  the  Prussians  have  come  off  con- 
querors ?  Such  a  view  is  positively  sinful:  it's  a  fine 
schooling  whereby  children  are  harassed  and  tor- 
mented, as  it  were  by  Attila's  horde,  and  even  worse. 

You  write  that  the  national  spirit  of  France  is  in 
revolt  against  brute  force.  From  the  beginning  I 
have  never  doubted  that  if  only  the  French  will  not 
hasten  to  make  peace,  if  they  will  but  hold  out  for  as 
much  as  three  months,  the  Germans  will  be  driven 
forth  with  shame  and  ignominy.  I  should  have 
to  write  you  a  long  letter  if  I  tried  to  give  you  a 
series  of  my  personal  observations — for  example, 
of  the  way  in  which  soldiers  are  sent  to  France, 
how  they  are  recruited,  equipped,  housed  and  fed, 
transported.  It  is  extraordinarily  interesting.  An 
unfortunate  poverty-stricken  woman,  say,  who  lives 
by  letting  two  furnished  rooms  (rooms  are  all  "  fur- 
nished "  here;  she  would  have  about  twopence  worth 
of  furniture  of  her  own)  .  .  .  such  a  woman  is 
forced,  because  she  "  has  her  own  furniture,"  to 
supply  quarters  and  food  for  ten  soldiers.  The 
quartering  lasts  a  day,  or  two,  or  three — at  most  a 
week.  But  the  business  costs  her  from  twenty  to 
thirty  thalers. 

I  have  myself  read  letters  from  German  soldiers  in 
France  to  their  parents  (small  business-folk).  Good 
God,  the  things  they  have  to  tell  !  O,  how  ill  they 
are,  and  how  hungry  !  But  it  would  take  too  long  to 
relate.  One  more  observation,  though,  I'll  give  you: 
at  first,  one  often  heard  the  people  in  the  streets 
singing  the  "  Wacht  am  Rhein":  now,  one  never 
hears  it  at  all.  By  far  the  greatest  excitement  and 
pride  exists  among  the  professors,  doctors,  and 
students;  the  crowd  are  but  little  interested.  In- 


202  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXIII 

deed,  they  are  very  quiet.  But  the  professors  are 
extraordinarily  arrogant.  I  encounter  them  every 
evening  in  the  public  library.  A  very  influential 
scholar  with  silver-white  hair  loudly  exclaimed,  the 
day  before  yesterday,  "  Paris  must  be  bombarded  !" 
So  that's  the  outcome  of  all  their  learning.  If  not  of 
their  learning,  then  of  their  stupidity.  They  may  be 
very  scholarly,  but  they're  frightfully  limited  !  Yet 
another  observation:  all  the  populace  here  can  read 
and  write,  but  every  one  of  them  is  terribly  unintelli- 
gent, obtuse,  stubborn,  and  devoid  of  any  high  ideals. 
But  enough  of  this.  Till  we  meet.  I  embrace  you 
and  thank  you  in  anticipation.  For  God's  sake,  don't 
forget  me,  and  do  write  to  me. 

Your 
DOSTOEVSKY. 

LXIII 

To  Apollon  Nikolayevitch  Maikov 

DRESDEN, 
March  2  [14],  1871. 

[At  first  the  topic  is  a  pending  transaction  between 
Dostoevsky  and  the  publisher  Stellovsky.] 

I  was  delighted  by  your  flattering  opinion  of 
the  beginning  of  my  novel.  My  God,  how  I  feared 
for  that  book,  and  how  I  still  fear  !  By  the  time  you 
read  these  lines,  you  will  have  seen  the  second  half  of 
the  first  part  in  the  February  number  of  the  Roussky 
Viestnik.  What  do  you  say  to  it  ?  I  am  terribly 
anxious.  I  can't  at  all  tell  if  I  shall  get  on  with  the 
sequel.  I  am  in  despair.  There  are  to  be  only  four 
parts  in  all — that  is,  forty  sheets.  Stepan  Trofimo- 
vitch1  is  a  figure  of  superficial  importance ;  the  novel 

i  Verchovensky  in  "  The  Possessed." 


AT.  49]  POPULAR  SUCCESSES  203 

will  not  in  any  real  sense  deal  with  him;  but  his 
story  is  so  closely  connected  with  the  principal 
events  of  the  book  that  I  was  obliged  to  take  him  as 
basis  for  the  whole.  This  Stepan  Trofimovitch  will 
take  his  "  benefit  "  in  the  fourth  part;  his  destiny 
is  to  have  a  most  original  climax.  I  won't  answer 
for  anything  else,  but  for  that  I  answer  without 
limitations.  And  yet  I  must  once  more  say:  I 
tremble  like  a  frightened  mouse.  The  idea  tempted 
me,  and  I  got  tremendously  carried  away  by  it ;  but 
whether  I  shall  bring  it  off,  whether  the  whole  novel 
isn't  a  [.  .  -1] — well,  that's  my  great  trouble. 

Only  think:  I  have  already  had  letters  from 
several  quarters  congratulating  me  on  the  first  part. 
This  has  enormously  encouraged  me.  I  tell  you 
quite  truthfully,  with  no  idea  of  flattering  you,  that 
your  judgment  has  more  weight  with  me  than  any 
other.  In  the  first  place,  I  know  that  you  are  abso- 
lutely frank;  in  the  second,  your  letter  contains  an 
inspired  saying:  "  They  are  Turgenev's  heroes  in 
their  old  age."  That's  admirably  said  !  As  I  wrote, 
some  such  idea  hovered  before  me;  but  you  have 
expressed  it  in  a  word  or  two,  in  a  formula,  as  it 
were.  Aye — for  those  words  I  thank  you ;  you  have 
illuminated  the  whole  book  thereby.  The  work  goes 
very  heavily  forward;  I  feel  unwell,  and  soon  now 
returns  the  period  of  my  frequent  attacks.  I  am 
afraid  I  shall  not  be  ready  in  time.  But  I  do  not 
mean  to  hurry.  True,  I  have  thoroughly  constructed 
and  thoroughly  studied  my  plan;  nevertheless,  if  I 
hurry,  I  may  spoil  the  whole  thing.  I  have  quite 
decided  to  return  in  the  spring. 

[Henceforth  he  writes  of  the  journals  Besyeda  and 
Sarya.] 

1  Here  is  the  letter  D  and  four  dots. 


204  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [LXIV 

LXIV 

To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

DRESDEN, 
April  23  [May  5],  1871. 

[In  the  first  half  of  the  letter  Dostoevsky  advises 
Strachov  on  no  account  to  abandon  his  critical 
work.] 

As  a  consequence  of  the  colossal  revolutions  which 
are  taking  place  in  politics  as  well  as  in  the  narrower 
literary  sphere,  we  behold  general  culture  and  ca- 
pacity for  critical  judgment  momentarily  shattered 
and  undone.  People  have  taken  it  into  their  heads 
that  they  have  no  time  for  literature  (as  if  literature 
were  a  pastime — fine  culture,  that  !) ;  in  consequence 
of  which  the  level  of  literary  taste  is  so  terribly  low 
that  no  critic  of  to-day,  however  remarkable  he  may 
be,  can  have  his  proper  influence  on  the  public. 
Dobrolyubov's  and  Pissarev's  successes  really  derive 
from  their  having  totally  ignored  any  such  thing 
as  literature,  that  sole  domain  of  intellectual  and 
spiritual  vitality  here  below.  But  one  must  not  reckon 
with  such  phenomena;  one  is  bound  to  continue 
one's  critical  work.  Forgive  my  offering  you  advice : 
but  that  is  how  I  should  act,  were  I  in  your  place. 

In  one  of  your  brochures  there  was  a  wonderful 
piece  of  observation  which  nobody  before  you  has 
made,  namely,  that  every  writer  of  any  significance, 
any  authentic  talent,  has  finally  yielded  to  national 
sentiment  and  become  a  Slavophil.  Thus,  for 
example,  the  facile  Pushkin  created,  long  before  any 
of  the  Slavophils,  that  figure  of  the  Chronicler  in 
the  monastery  at  Tchudov1 — that  is  to  say,  he 

1  A  scene  in  Pushkin's  drama  of  "  Boris  Godounov." 


JJT.  49]  HIS  SELF-CRITICISM  205 

grasped,  far  better  than  all  the  Kireyevskys,  Chom- 
yakovs,  etc.,  the  inmost  essence  of  Slavophilism. 
And  then,  look  at  Herzen :  what  a  longing,  what  a 
need,  to  strike  into  the  true  path  !  Only  because  of 
his  personal  weaknesses  did  he  fail  to  do  it.  Nor  is 
that  all:  this  law  of  the  conversion  to  nationality  is 
not  only  to  be  observed  in  writers  and  poets,  but  in 
all  other  directions.  So  that  one  can  in  the  end  set 
up  yet  another  law:  if  any  man  has  genuine  talent, 
he  will  have  also  that  impulse  to  return  to  the  people 
from  the  crumbling  upper  regions  of  society;  but  if 
he  has  no  talent,  he  will  not  only  remain  in  those 
crumbling  regions,  but  even  exile  himself  to  foreign 
lands,  or  turn  to  Catholicism,  or  what  not. 

Bielinsky,  whom  you  even  to-day  admire,  was,  as 
regards  talent,  feeble  and  impotent ;  therefore  he  con- 
demned Russia  and,  in  full  consciousness  of  what  he 
was  doing,  reviled  his  native  land  (people  will  have 
much  to  say  of  Bielinsky  in  the  future,  and  then 
you'll  see).  But  I  want  only  to  say  one  thing  more: 
that  idea  which  you  have  expressed  is  enormously 
important,  and  demands  further  and  more  specialized 
treatment. 

Your  letters  give  me  great  delight.  But  about 
your  last  opinion  on  my  novel  I  want  to  say  this  to 
you :  first,  you  praise  far  too  highly  those  excellencies 
which  you  find  therein;  second,  you  point  with 
admirable  acumen  to  its  principal  fault.  Yes,  that 
was  and  ever  is  my  greatest  torment — I  never  can 
control  my  material.  Whenever  I  write  a  novel,  I 
crowd  it  up  with  a  lot  of  separate  stories  and  epi- 
sodes; therefore  the  whole  lacks  proportion  and 
harmony.  You  have  seen  this  astonishingly  well; 
how  frightfully  have  I  always  suffered  from  it,  for  I 
have  always  been  aware  that  it  was  so.  And  I  have 
made  another  great  mistake  besides:  without  calcu- 


206  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXV 

lating  my  powers,  I  have  allowed  myself  to  be  trans- 
ported by  poetic  enthusiasm,  and  have  undertaken  an 
idea  to  which  my  strength  was  not  equal.  (N.B. — The 
force  of  poetic  enthusiasm  is,  to  be  sure,  as  for  example 
with  Victor  Hugo,  always  stronger  than  the  artistic 
force.  Even  in  Pushkin  one  detects  this  dispro- 
portion.) But  /  destroy  myself  thereby. 

I  must  further  add  that  the  move  to  Russia  and 
the  many  anxieties  which  await  me  in  the  summer, 
will  immensely  injure  the  novel.  Anyhow,  I  thank 
you  for  your  sympathy.  What  a  pity  it  is  that  we 
shall  not  see  one  another  for  so  long.  In  the  mean- 
time 

I  am  your  most  devoted 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


LXV 

To  Nikolay  Nikolayevitch  Strachov 

DRESDEN, 
May  18  [30],  1871. 

MUCH-ESTEEMED  NIKOLAY  NIKOLAYEVITCH, 

So  you  really  have  begun  your  letter  with 
Bielinsky,  as  I  foresaw.  But  do  reflect  on  Paris  and 
the  Commune.  Will  you  perchance  maintain,  as 
others  do,  that  the  whole  thing  failed  simply  because 
of  the  lack  of  men,  and  as  a  result  of  unfavourable 
circumstances  ?  Through  the  whole  of  this  igih 
century,  that  school  has  dreamed  of  the  setting-up  of 
earthly  paradises  (for  instance,  the  phalansteries),  and 
then,  directly  it  came  to  action  (as  in  the  years  1848, 
1849,  and  now),  has  shown  a  contemptible  incapacity 
for  any  practical  expression  of  itself.  At  bottom,  the 
entire  movement  is  but  a  repetition  of  the  Russian 
delusion  that  men  can  reconstruct  the  world  by  reason 


JET.  49]        HE  CONDEMNS  POSITIVISM        207 

and  experience  (Positivism) .  But  we  have  seen  enough 
of  it  by  now  to  be  entitled  to  declare  that  such  im- 
potence as  is  displayed  can  be  no  chance  phenomenon. 
Why  do  they  cut  off  heads  ?  Simply  because  it's  the 
easiest  of  all  things  to  do.  To  say  something  sensible 
is  far  more  difficult.  Effort  is,  after  all,  a  lesser 
thing  than  attainment.  They  desire  the  common 
good,  but  when  it  comes  to  defining  "  good,"  can 
only  reiterate  Rousseau's  aphorism — that  "  good  "  is 
a  fantasy  never  yet  ratified  by  experience.  The 
burning  of  Paris  is  something  utterly  monstrous: 
"  Since  we  have  failed,  let  the  whole  world  perish  !" 
— for  the  Commune  is  more  important  than  the  world's 
weal,  and  France's  !  Yet  they  (and  many  others)  see 
in  that  madness  not  monstrosity,  but  only  beauty. 
Since  that  is  so,  the  aesthetic  idea  must  be  completely 
clouded  over  in  the  modern  mind.  A  moral  basis 
(taken  from  Positivist  teachings)  for  society  is  not 
only  incapable  of  producing  any  results  whatever,  but 
can't  possibly  even  define  itself  to  itself,  and  so  must 
always  lose  its  way  amid  aspirations  and  ideals. 
Have  we  not  sufficient  evidence  by  this  time  to  be 
able  to  prove  that  a  society  is  not  thus  to  be  built  up, 
that  quite  otherwhere  lie  the  paths  to  the  common 
good,  and  that  this  common  good  reposes  on  things 
different  altogether  from  those  hitherto  accepted  ? 
On  what,  then,  does  it  repose  ?  Men  write  and  write, 
and  overlook  the  principal  point.  In  Western  Europe 
the  peoples  have  lost  Christ  (Catholicism  is  to  blame), 
and  therefore  Western  Europe  is  tottering  to  its  fall. 
Ideas  have  changed — how  evidently  !  And  the  fall 
of  the  Papal  power,  together  with  that  of  the  whole 
Romano-German  world  (France,  etc.) — what  a  co- 
incidence ! 

All  this  would  take  long  wholly  to  express,  but 
what  I  really  want  to  say  to  you  is:  If  Bielinsky, 


208  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXV 

Granovsky,  and  all  the  rest  of  the  gang,  had  lived  to 
see  this  day,  they  would  have  said:  "  No,  it  was  not 
to  this  that  we  aspired  !  No,  this  is  a  mistake;  we 
must  wait  a  while,  the  light  will  shine  forth,  progress 
will  win,  humanity  will  build  on  new  and  healthier 
foundations,  and  be  happy  at  last  !"  They  would 
never  admit  that  their  way  can  lead  at  best  but  to  the 
Commune  or  to  Felix  Pyat.  That  crew  was  so  obtuse 
that  even  now,  after  the  event,  they  would  not  be 
able  to  see  their  error,  they  would  persist  in  their 
fantastic  dreaming.  I  condemn  Bielinsky  less  as  a 
personality  than  as  a  most  repulsive,  stupid,  and 
humiliating  phenomenon  of  Russian  life.  The  best 
one  can  say  for  it  is  that  it's  inevitable.  I  assure  you 
that  Bielinsky  would  have  been  moved,  to-day,  to 
take  the  following  attitude :  "  The  Commune  has 
accomplished  nothing,  because  before  all  things  it  was 
French — that  is  to  say,  was  steeped  in  nationalism. 
Therefore  we  must  now  seek  out  another  people, 
which  will  not  have  the  tiniest  spark  of  national 
feeling,  but  will  be  ready,  like  me,  to  box  its  mother's 
(Russia's)  ears."  Wrathfully  he  would  continue  to 
foam  forth  his  wretched  articles;  he  would  go  on 
reviling  Russia,  denying  Russia's  greatest  phenomena 
(such  as  Pushkin),  so  that  he  might  thus  make  Russia 
seem  to  turn  into  an  empty  nation,  which  might  take 
the  lead  in  universal  human  activities.  The  Jesuitry 
and  insincerity  of  our  prominent  public  men,  he  would 
regard  as  great  good  fortune.  And  then,  for  another 
thing:  you  never  knew  him;  but  I  had  personal 
intercourse  with  him,  and  now  can  give  his  full 
measure.  The  man,  talking  with  me  once,  reviled 
the  Saviour,  and  yet  surely  he  could  never  have 
undertaken  to  compare  himself  and  the  rest  of  the 
gentry  who  move  the  world,  with  Christ.  He  was 
not  capable  of  seeing  how  petty,  angry,  impatient, 


JJT.  49]     BIELINSKY  AND  TURGENEV          209 

base,  and  before  all  else  covetous  and  vain,  they, 
every  one  of  them,  are.  He  never  asked  himself  the 
question:  "  But  what  can  we  put  in  His  place  ?  Of 
a  surety  not  ourselves,  so  evil  as  we  are  ?"  No;  he 
never  reflected  in  any  sort  of  way  upon  the  possibility 
that  he  might  be  evil;  he  was  to  the  last  degree 
content  with  himself,  and  in  that  alone  is  expressed 
his  personal,  petty,  pitiable  stupidity. 

You  declare  that  he  was  gifted.     He  was  not,  in 
any  way.     My  God,  what  nonsense  Grigoryev  did 
write  about  him  !     I  can  still  remember  my  youthful 
amazement  when  I  read  some  of  his  purely  aesthetic 
efforts  (as,  for  instance,  on  "  Dead  Souls  ") ;  he  treated 
Gogol's  characters  with  incredible  superficiality  and 
lack  of  comprehension,  and  merely  rejoiced  insanely 
that  Gogol  had  accused  somebody.     In  the  four  years 
of  my  sojourn  here  abroad,  I  have  re-read  all  his 
critical  writings.     He  reviled  Pushkin,  when  Pushkin 
dropped  his  false  note,  and  produced  such  works  as 
the  "  Tales  of  Bielkin,"  and  "  The  Negro  of  Peter 
the  Great."    He  pronounced  the  "  Tales  of  Bielkin  " 
to  be  entirely  valueless.     In  Gogol's  "  Carriage/'  he 
perceived  not  an  artistic  creation,  but  a  mere  comic 
tale.   *He  wholly  abjured  the  conclusion  of  "  Eugene 
Onegin."     He  was  the  first  to  speak  of  Pushkin  as  a 
courtier.     He  said  that  Turgenev  would  never  make 
an  artist ;  and  he  said  that  after  he  had  read  Turge- 
nev's  very  remarkable  tale  of  "  The  Three  Portraits." 
I  could  give  you,  on  the  spur  of  the  moment,  count- 
less proofs  that  he  had  not  an  atom  of  critical  sense, 
nor  that  "  quivering  sensibility  "  of  which  Grigoryev 
babbled  (simply  because  he  too  was  a  poet) . 

We  regard  Bielinsky  and  many  another  of  our 
contemporaries  through  the  still  enduring  glamour  of 
fantastic  judgments. 

Did  I  really  write  you  nothing  about  your  article 

14 


210  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXV 

on  Turgenev  ?  I  read  it,  as  I  read  all  your  writings, 
with  great  delight,  but  at  the  same  time  with  some 
degree  of  vexation.  Once  you  had  admitted  that 
Turgenev  has  lost  grasp,  that  he  has  no  idea  what  to 
say  about  certain  manifestations  of  Russian  life  (he 
jeers  at  them,  every  one),  you  were  bound  to  admit 
as  well  that  his  artistic  powers  are  at  ebb  in  his  recent 
work — for  it  could  not  be  otherwise.  But  on  the 
contrary  you  hold  that  his  recent  work  is  on  the 
same  level  with  his  earlier.  Can  both  statements  be 
accepted  ?  Possibly  I  am  myself  mistaken  (not  in 
my  judgment  of  Turgenev,  but  in  my  interpretation 
of  your  article).  Perhaps  you  have  merely  expressed 
yourself  confusedly.  .  .  .  Know  this :  all  that  school 
is  no  more  than  "  Landed-proprietor's  Literature." 
And  that  kind  of  literature  has  said  all  it  had  to  say 
(particularly  well  in  the  case  of  Leo  Tolstoy).  It  has 
spoken  its  last  word,  and  is  exempt  from  further 
duty.  A  new  school  that  may  take  its  place  is  still 
to  come;  we  have  not  had  time  to  produce  it.  The 
Reschetnikovs1  have  said  nothing.  Nevertheless,  the 
works  of  a  Reschetnikov  demonstrate  the  necessity 
for  a  new  note  in  literature,  which  shall  replace  that 
of  the  landed  proprietors — however  repellently  such  a 
writer  expresses  himself. 

[He  then  speaks  of  his  return  to  Petersburg  and  of 
the  Sarya.] 

N.B. — Dostoevsky  did  return  to  Petersburg  on 
July  8,  1871. 

1  Reschetnikov,  a  novelist  "  with  a  purpose  "  of  the  'sixties, 
one  of  the  foremost  pioneers  of  the  free-thinking  "  Narod- 
niki  "  school,  which  advocates  absorption  into  the  people. 


JET.  54]      HE  DEFENDS  HIS  "  DIARY  "        211 

LXVI 
To  Mme.  Ch.  D.  Altschevsky. 

PETERSBURG, 

April  9,  1876. 

You  write  that  I  am  squandering  and  abusing  my 
talents  on  bagatelles  in  the  Diary.  You  are  not  the 
first  from  whom  I  have  heard  that.  And  now  I  want 
to  say  this  to  you  and  others :  I  have  been  driven  to 
the  conviction  that  an  artist  is  bound  to.  make  himself 
acquainted,  down  to  the  smallest  detail,  not  only  with 
the  technique  of  writing,  but  with  everything — cur- 
rent no  less  than  historical  events — relating  to  that 
reality  which  he  designs  to  show  forth.  We  have 
only  one  writer  who  is  really  remarkable  in  that 
respect:  it  is  Count  Leo  Tolstoy.  Victor  Hugo, 
whom  I  extraordinarily  admire  as  a  novelist  (only 
think:  Tchutchev,  who  is  now  dead,  once  got 
positively  angry  with  me  on  account  of  this  view  of 
Hugo,  and  said  that  my  "  Raskolnikov  "  was  much 
greater  than  Hugo's  "Mise*rables  ") — is  certainly  prone 
to  be  too  long-winded  in  his  description  of  details, 
but  he  gives  us  most  marvellous  effects  of  observa- 
tion, which  would  have  been  lost  to  the  world  but  for 
him.  As  I  am  now  purposing  to  write  a  very  big 
novel,  I  must  devote  myself  most  especially  to  the 
study  of  actuality :  I  don't  mean  actuality  in  the  literal 
sense,  for  I  am  fairly  well  versed  in  that,  but  certain 
peculiarities  of  the  present  moment.  And  in  this 
present  moment  the  younger  generation  particularly 
interests  me,  and,  as  akin  to  it,  the  question  of 
Russian  family-life,  which,  to  my  thinking,  is  to-day 
quite  a  different  thing  from  what  it  was  twenty  years 
ago.  Also  many  other  questions  of  the  moment 
interest  me. 


212  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXVI 

At  fifty-three,1 1  might  easily,  were  I  to  slacken  at 
all  in  this  respect,  fail  to  keep  pace  with  the  growing 
generation.  Lately  I  had  a  chance  encounter  with 
Gontscharov,  and  I  asked  him  whether  all  the 
phenomena  of  the  present  moment  were  compre- 
hensible to  him ;  he  answered  quite  frankly  that  there 
was  much  he  could  not  understand  at  all.  (N.B. — This 
between  ourselves.)  Of  course,  I  know  that  Gonts- 
charov, with  his  remarkable  intelligence,  not  only 
understands  it  all,  but  is  competent  to  instruct  the 
instructors  of  the  day;  but  in  the  peculiar  sense  in 
which  I  put  the  question  (and  which  he  at  once 
understood)  he  does  not  even  desire  to  grasp  these 
phenomena.  "  My  ideals,  and  all  that  I  have  prized 
in  life,  are  far  too  dear  to  me,"  he  added;  "  and  for 
the  few  years  that  I  have  yet  to  live,  I  mean  to  abide 
by  them;  it  would  go  too  hard  with  me  to  study 
these  gentry  "  (he  pointed  to  the  crowd  that  was 
flowing  past  us),  "  for  I  should  be  obliged  to  use  up  in 
so  doing  the  time  which  is  so  precious  to  me.  ..." 
I  don't  know  if  you'll  understand  me,  revered 
Christina  Danilovna:  I  greatly  desire  to  write  some- 
thing more,  and  to  do  so  with  complete  knowledge 
of  my  subject;  for  that  reason  I  shall  study  a  while 
longer  and  put  down  my  impressions  in  the  Diary  of 
a  Writer,  so  that  nothing  may  be  wasted.  Of  course 
it's  merely  an  ideal  to  which  I  aspire  !  You  won't 
believe  me  at  all,  I  daresay,  when  I  declare  that  I 
haven't  yet  discovered  the  right  form  for  the  Diary, 
and  don't  know  in  the  least  if  I  shall  ever  really 
succeed  in  discovering  it;  the  Diary  might  perfectly 
well  run  for  two  years  longer,  and  yet  be  a  com- 
plete failure  as  a  piece  of  work.  For  example, 
imagine  this:  when  I  set  to  work,  I  always  have 

1  Discrepancy  as  to  his  age  here,  but  so  both  in  German 
and  French  texts. 


DOSTOKVSKV,    PETERSBURG,    1H7.1. 


JET.  54]  GIRL-STUDENTS  213 

from  ten  to  fifteen  themes  available;  but  those 
themes  which  strike  me  as  particularly  interesting,  I 
always  save  up  for  another  time;  if  I  make  use  of 
them  at  once,  they  take  up  too  much  of  my  space, 
they  demand  my  whole  energy  (as,  for  example,  in 
the  case  of  Kroneberg1),  and  the  number  turns  out 
a  bad  one — and  so  forth.  Therefore  I  write  of  things 
that  are  not  at  all  so  near  to  me. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  idea  of  making  it  a  genuine 
Diary  was  really  naive  in  me.  A  genuine  Diary  is 
almost  impossible;  it  can  only  be  a  work  cut  about 
to  suit  the  public  taste.  Every  minute  I  come  upon 
facts,  receive  impressions,  that  often  carry  me  away 
— but  there  are  some  things  about  which  one  can't 
possibly  write.  .  .  . 

The  day  before  yesterday,  early,  there  come  to  me 
quite  unexpectedly  two  young  girls,  both  about 
twenty  years  old.  They  come  and  say :  "  We  have 
long  wanted  to  make  your  acquaintance.  Everyone 
laughed  at  us,  and  declared  that  you  would  not 
receive  us,  and  that  even  if  you  did,  you  would  not 
care  to  talk  with  us.  But  we  determined  to  make 
the  attempt,  and  so  here  we  are.  Our  names  are 
so-and-so."  They  were  first  received  by  my  wife. 
I  came  out  later. 

They  told  me  that  they  were  students  at  the 
Academy  of  Medicine,  that  there  were  at  that 
Academy  as  many  as  five  hundred  women-students, 
and  that  they  had  entered  there  "  to  obtain  higher 
education,  so  as  later  to  be  able  to  do  useful  work." 
I  had  never  before  seen  girls  of  that  sort  (of  the 
earlier  Nihilists  I  know  a  number,  and  have  studied 
them  thoroughly).  Believe  me,  I  have  seldom  passed 

1  Diary  of  a  Writer,  February,  1876;  a  sensational  lawsuit 
against  a  certain  Kroneberg,  who  had  long  inhumanly  treated 
his  seven-year-old  daughter. 


214  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXVI 

my  time  so  agreeably  as  in  the  company  of  those  two 
girls,  who  remained  with  me  a  couple  of  hours.  Such 
wonderful  spontaneity,  such  freshness  of  feeling,  such 
purity  of  heart  and  mind,  such  grave  sincerity,  and 
such  sincere  mirth  I  Through  them  I  came,  later,  to 
know  many  such  girls,  and  must  confess  that  the 
impression  they  made  on  me  was  powerful  and 
pleasant.  But  how  am  I  to  describe  all  that  ? 
Despite  my  sincerity,  and  the  delight  with  which  I 
regard  these  young  people,  I  cannot  possibly  do  it. 
The  impression  was  of  almost  too  personal  a  nature. 
But  then,  what  impressions  am  I  to  put  down  in 
my  Diary  ? 

Or  another  instance :  yesterday  I  heard  the  follow- 
ing story :  A  young  man,  a  student  at  an  institution 
which  I  do  not  wish  to  name  (I  happened  to  make 
his  acquaintance),  is  visiting  friends,  goes  accidentally 
into  the  tutor's  room,  and  sees  a  forbidden  book  lying 
on  the  table;  he  instantly  tells  the  master  of  the 
house,  and  the  tutor  is  instantly  dismissed.  When, 
in  another  household,  someone  told  this  young  man 
that  he  had  been  guilty  of  a  base  action,  he  could  not 
in  the  least  see  it.  There  you  have  the  reverse  of 
the  medal.  But  how  am  I  to  write  about  that  ?  The 
thing  is  in  one  way  of  a  purely  personal  nature;  and 
yet  the  processes  of  reflection,  and  the  temper,  of  that 
young  man  who  cannot  at  all  perceive  the  baseness  of 
his  action,  about  which  I  should  have  much  of  interest 
to  say,  are  typical  wholly,  and  not  personal  at  all. 

But  I  have  written  too  much  about  all  this.  The 
truth  is,  I  find  it  terribly  difficult  to  write  letters ;  I 
have  no  talent  for  it.  Forgive  me,  also,  for  the  bad 
handwriting;  I  have  a  headache,  it  is  la  grippe — my 
eyes  have  been  paining  me  all  day,  and  I  write  this 
almost  without  seeing  my  characters. 


*T.  54]       SAYING  "  A  LAST  WORD  "  215 

LXVII 

To  Vsevolod  Solovyov1 

EMS, 
July,  1876. 

On  my  departure  I  left  several  quite  personal  and 
even  pressing  affairs  unattended  to.  But  here,  at 
this  tedious  spa,  your  letter  has  literally  refreshed  me 
and  gone  straight  to  my  heart ;  I  was  already  feeling 
much  troubled — I  don't  myself  know  why  it  should 
be  so,  but  every  time  I  come  to  Ems,  I  undergo 
a  mood  of  tormenting,  wholly  groundless,  more  or 
less  hypochondriacal,  depression.  Whether  it  arises 
from  my  isolation  in  the  crowd  of  8,000  "  patients," 
or  from  the  climate  of  this  place,  I  can't  decide;  but 
I  am  always  in  a  worse  state  here  than  almost  any- 
body else  is.  You  write  that  you  must  speak  with 
me,  and  how  dearly  I  should  like  to  see  you  ! 

The  June  number  of  the  Diary  pleased  you,  then. 
I  am  glad  of  that,  and  for  a  special  reason.  I  had 
never  yet  permitted  myself  to  follow  my  profoundest 
convictions  to  their  ultimate  consequences  in  my 
public  writing — had  never  said  my  very  last  word. 
A  very  intelligent  correspondent  in  the  provinces 
once,  indeed,  reproached  me  for  opening  up  so  many 
important  questions  in  my  Diary,  yet  never  thoroughly 
discussing  them;  he  encouraged  me,  and  urged  me 
to  be  more  daring.  So  I  decided  that  I  would  for 
once  say  the  last  word  on  one  of  my  convictions — 
that  of  Russia's  part  and  destiny  among  the  nations 
— and  I  proclaimed  that  my  various  anticipations 
would  not  only  be  fulfilled  in  the  immediate  future, 
but  were  already  partly  realized. 

1  Vsevolod  Solovyov,  author  of  some  popular  historical 
novels;  brother  of  Vladimir  Solovyov,  the  philosopher. 


216  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [LXVII 

And  then  there  happened  precisely  what  I  had 
expected:  even  those  newspapers  and  magazines 
which  are  friendly  to  me  raised  an  outcry,  saying  that 
my  whole  article  was  hopelessly  paradoxical;  while 
the  others  bestowed  not  the  smallest  attention  on  it — 
and  here  am  I,  who  believe  that  I  have  opened  up 
the  most  important  of  all  questions  !  That's  what 
happens  when  one  attempts  to  carry  an  idea  to  its 
issue  !  One  may  set  up  any  paradox  one  likes,  and 
so  long  as  one  doesn't  carry  it  to  its  ultimate  con- 
clusion, everyone  will  think  it  most  subtle,  witty, 
comme  il  faut;  but  once  blurt  out  the  last  word,  and 
quite  frankly  (not  by  implication)  declare:  "This  is 
the  Messiah  !"  why,  nobody  will  believe  in  you  any 
more — for  it  was  so  silly  of  you  to  push  your  idea  to 
its  ultimate  conclusion  !  If  many  a  famous  wit,  such 
as  Voltaire,  had  resolved  for  once  to  rout  all  hints, 
allusions,  and  esotericisms  by  force  of  his  genuine 
beliefs,  to  show  the  real  Himself,  he  would  quite 
certainly  not  have  had  a  tithe  of  the  success  he 
enjoyed.  He  would  merely  have  been  laughed  at. 
For  man  instinctively  avoids  saying  his  last  word ;  he 
has  a  prejudice  against  "  thoughts  said." 

"  Once  said,  the  thought  turns  lie  !".* 

Now  you  can  judge  for  yourself  how  precious  to 
me  are  your  friendly  expressions  about  the  June 
number.  For  you  have  understood  my  words  and 
taken  them  exactly  as  I  thought  them  myself.  I 
thank  you  for  that;  for  I  was  already  a  little  dis- 
illusioned, and  was  reproving  myself  for  my  pre- 
cipitancy. If  there  are  but  a  few  members  of  the 
public  who  understand  me  as  you  do,  I  have  done 
what  I  aimed  at  doing,  and  am  content — my  words 
have  not  been  in  vain.  .  .  .  But  the  rest  at  once 
1  From  a  poem  by  Tchutchev. 


JET.  55]       LETTERS  FROM  ADMIRERS          217 

proclaimed  with  cries  of  joy:  "He  is  so  frightfully 
paradoxical  !"  And  the  folk  who  say  it  are  precisely 
those  who  never  had  an  idea  of  their  own  in  their 
lives.  .  .  . 

I  remain  here  till  August  7  (Old  Style).  I  am 
drinking  the  waters,  and  indeed  would  never  be  able 
to  make  up  my  mind  to  endure  this  place  were  I  not 
convinced  that  the  cure  is  really  good  for  me.  It's 
certainly  not  worth  while  to  describe  Ems  !  I  have 
promised  the  public  to  bring  out  a  double  number  of 
the  Diary  in  August;  as  yet  I  haven't  written  a 
single  line;  from  sheer  boredom  I've  got  so  apathetic 
that  I  regard  the  work  before  me  with  reluctance,  as  if 
it  were  an  imminent  misfortune.  I  already  feel  that 
the  number  will  be  very  bad.  At  any  rate,  write  to 
me  again  while  I'm  here,  my  dearest  fellow.  .  .  . 


LXVIII 

To  Mile.  Gerassimov 

PETERSBURG, 

March  7,  1877. 

MUCH-HONOURED  MLLE.  GERASSIMOV  ! 

Your  letter  has  tormented  me  terribly,  because 
I  could  not  answer  it  for  so  long.  What  can  you 
have  thought  of  me  ?  In  your  dejected  state,  you 
will  perhaps  have  taken  my  silence  as  an  affront. 

You  must  know  that  I  am  almost  overwhelmed 
with  work.  Besides  the  work  for  the  periodically 
appearing  Diary,  I  have  to  get  through  a  quantity 
of  letters.  I  receive  daily  several  letters  of  the  same 
kind  as  yours,  which  cannot  possibly  be  disposed  of 
in  a  few  lines.  Moreover,  I  have  lately  suffered  from 
three  attacks  of  epilepsy,  and  those  of  such  violence 
and  quick  recurrence  as  I  have  not  had  for  years. 


218  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [LXVIII 

After  each  attack,  I  was  bodily  and  mentally  so 
shattered  that  for  two  and  three  days  I  could  not 
work  or  write,  or  even  read.  Now  you  know  that, 
you  will  forgive  my  long  silence. 

I  did  not  think  your  letter  by  any  means  childish  or 
stupid,  as  you  assume.  For  that  mood  is  now  general, 
and  there  are  many  young  girls  suffering  like  you. 
But  I  don't  mean  to  write  much  on  that  theme;  I 
shall  only  lay  before  you  my  fundamental  ideas  upon 
the  subject,  both  in  general,  and  as  it  concerns  you 
personally.  If  I  advise  you  to  settle  down,  to  stay  in 
your  parents'  house,  and  take  up  some  intelligent 
occupation  (corresponding  to  the  course  of  your 
education),  you  won't  be  much  inclined  to  listen  to 
me.  But  why  are  you  in  such  a  hurry,  why  should 
you  so  dread  any  delay  ?  You  want  to  do  something 
useful  as  soon  as  possible.  And  yet,  with  your  ardour 
(I  am  taking  it  for  granted  that  it  is  genuine),  you 
could — if  you  don't  act  precipitately,  but  pursue  your 
education  a  little  longer — prepare  yourself  for  activities 
which  would  be  a  hundred  times  more  useful  than  the 
obscure  and  insignificant  role  of  a  sick-nurse,  midwife, 
or  woman-doctor.  You  urgently  desire  to  enter  the 
Medical  High  School  for  Women  here.  I  should  like 
to  advise  you  decidedly  not  to  do  so.  You  will  get 
no  education  there,  but  quite  the  contrary.  And 
what  do  you  gain,  if  you  actually  do  become  a  mid- 
wife or  woman-doctor  ?  Such  a  callh-g — if  you  really 
do  expect  so  much  from  it — you  could  quite  well 
take  up  later  on;  but  would  it  not  be  better  now  if 
you  pursued  other  ends,  and  took  pains  with  your 
general  education  ?  Do  but  look  at  all  our  specialists 
(even  the  University  professors);  why  are  they  all 
losing  ground,  and  whence  comes  the  harm  that  they 
do  (instead  of  doing  good)  to  their  own  profession  ? 
It  is  simply  because  the  majority  of  our  specialists 


JET.  55]  EDUCATION  219 

are  shockingly  ill-educated  people.  In  other  lands 
it  is  quite  different:  there  we  find  a  Humboldt  or 
a  Claude  Bernard,  persons  with  large  ideas,  great 
culture  and  knowledge  outside  of  their  special  job. 
But  with  us,  even  highly-gifted  people  are  incredibly 
uneducated;  for  example,  Syetchenov,1  who  at 
bottom  is  uneducated  and  knows  nothing  beyond  his 
narrow  special  subject;  of  his  scientific  adversaries 
(the  philosophers)  he  has  no  notion  whatever;  there- 
fore his  scientific  efforts  are  more  harmful  than 
useful.  And  the  majority  of  our  students — men  and 
women — have  no  true  education.  How  then  can  they 
be  useful  to  humanity  !  They  study  only  just  enough 
to  get  paid  appointments  as  soon  as  may  be.  ... 


LXIX 

To  A.  P.  N. 

May  19,  1877. 

MUCH-HONOURED  ALEXANDER  PAVLOVITCH, 

Will  you  be  so  very  good  as  to  excuse  my  not 
naving  answered  you  for  so  long  ?  Not  until  to-day 
have  I  been  able  to  leave  Petersburg  for  a  while;  I 
have  been  terribly  busy,  and  my  illness  added  to  my 
troubles.  But  what  am  I  to  write  to  you  now  ?  You 
are  intelligent  enough  to  perceive  that  the  questions 
you  put  to  me  are  abstract  and  nebulous;  besides, 
I  have  no  personal  knowledge  whatever  of  you. 
I  too  strove  for  sixteen  years  with  doubts  similar  to 
yours;  but  somehow  or  other  I  was  certain  that 
sooner  or  later  I  should  succeed  in  finding  my  true 
path,  and  therefore  did  not  torment  myself  overmuch. 
It  was  more  or  less  unimportant  to  me  what  position 

1  A  renowned  Russian  physiologist. 


220  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXIX 

I  might  come  to  occupy  in  literature ;  in  my  soul  was 
a  certain  flame,  and  in  that  I  believed,  troubling 
myself  not  at  all  as  to  what  should  come  of  it. 
There  are  my  experiences,  since  you  ask  me  for 
them. 

How  should  I  know  your  heart  ?  If  you  will  hear 
my  counsel,  I  advise  you  to  trust  without  hesitation 
to  your  own  inward  impulse;  perhaps  destiny  may 
point  you  to  a  literary  career.  Your  claims  are 
indeed  most  modest,  for  you  .ask  no  more  than  to  be 
a  worker  of  the  second  rank.  I  should  like  to  add 
this:  my  own  youthful  impulse  hindered  me  in  no 
wise  from  taking  a  practical  grasp  of  life;  it  is  true 
I  was  a  writer,  not  an  engineer;  nevertheless,  during 
my  whole  course  at  the  College  of  Engineering,  from 
the  lowest  to  the  highest  class,  I  was  one  of  the  best 
students;  later  I  took  a  post  for  a  while,  although 
I  knew  that  sooner  or  later  I  should  abandon  that 
career.  But  I  saw  nothing  in  the  career  itself  which 
could  thwart  that  to  which  I  aspired;  I  was  even 
more  convinced  than  before  that  the  future  belonged 
to  me,  and  that  I  alone  should  control  it.  In  the 
same  way,  if  an  official  position  does  not  hinder  you 
in  the  pursuit  of  your  literary  vocation,  why  should 
you  not  temporarily  undertake  such  an  one  ? 

Naturally  I  write  all  this  at  random,  since  I  do  not 
know  you  personally;  but  I  want  to  be  of  service  to 
you,  and  so  answer  your  letter  as  frankly  as  possible. 
As  to  all  the  rest,  it  is,  in  great  part,  exaggeration. 

Permit  me  to  press  your  hand. 

Your 
FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


JJT.  56]  THE  BIBLE  221 

LXX 

To  N.  L.  Osmidov 

PETERSBURG, 

February,  1878. 

MY   DEAR  AND   KIND  NlKOLAY   LUKITCH, 

Let  me  beg  you,  first,  to  forgive  my  having, 
by  reason  of  illness  and  various  bothers,  taken  so  long 
to  answer  you.  In  the  second  place,  what  can  I  say 
in  reply  to  your  momentous  question,  which  belongs 
to  the  eternal  problem  of  humanity  ?  Can  one  treat 
such  matters  in  the  narrow  compass  of  a  letter  ?  If 
I  could  talk  with  you  for  some  hours,  it  would  be  a 
different  thing;  and  even  then  I  might  well  fail  to 
achieve  anything.  Least  of  all  by  words  and  argu- 
ments does  one  convert  an  unbeliever.  Would  it  not 
be  better  if  you  would  read,  with  your  best  possible 
attention,  all  the  epistles  of  St.  Paul  ?  Therein  much 
is  said  of  faith,  and  the  question  could  not  be  better 
handled.  I  recommend  you  to  read  the  whole  Bible 
through  in  the  Russian  translation.  The  book  makes 
a  remarkable  impression  when  one  thus  reads  it.  One 
gains,  for  one  thing,  the  conviction  that  humanity 
possesses,  and  can  possess,  no  other  book  of  equal 
significance.  Quite  apart  from  the  question  of 
whether  you  believe  or  don't  believe.  I  can't  give 
you  any  sort  of  idea.  But  I'll  say  just  this:  Every 
single  organism  exists  on  earth  but  to  live — not  to 
annihilate  itself.  Science  has  made  this  clear,  and 
has  laid  down  very  precise  laws  upon  which  to  ground 
the  axiom.  Humanity  as  a  whole  is,  of  course,  no 
less  than  an  organism.  And  that  organism  has, 
naturally,  its  own  conditions  of  existence,  its  own 


222  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXX 

laws.  Human  reason  comprehends  those  laws.  Now 
suppose  that  there  is  no  God,  and  no  personal  immor- 
tality (personal  immortality  and  God  are  one  and  the 
same — an  identical  idea).  Tell  me  then:  Why  am  I 
to  live  decently  and  do  good,  if  I  die  irrevocably  here 
below  ?  If  there  is  no  immortality,  I  need  but  live 
out  my  appointed  day,  and  let  the  rest  go  hang. 
And  if  that's  really  so  (and  if  I  am  clever  enough  not 
to  let  myself  be  caught  by  the  standing  laws),  why 
should  I  not  kill,  rob,  steal,  or  at  any  rate  live  at  the 
expense  of  others  ?  For  I  shall  die,  and  all  the  rest 
will  die  and  utterly  vanish  !  By  this  road,  one  would 
reach  the  conclusion  that  the  human  organism  alone 
is  not  subject  to  the  universal  law,  that  it  lives  but  to 
destroy  itself — not  to  keep  itself  alive.  For  what  sort 
of  society  is  one  whose  members  are  mutually 
hostile  ?  Only  utter  confusion  can  come  of  such  a 
thing  as  that.  And  then  reflect  on  the  "  I  "  which 
can  grasp  all  this.  If  the  "  I  "  can  grasp  the  idea  of 
the  universe  and  its  laws,  then  that  "  I  "  stands 
above  all  other  things,  stands  aside  from  all  other 
things,  judges  them,  fathoms  them.  In  that  case, 
the  "I"  is  not  only  liberated  from  the  earthly 
axioms,  the  earthly  laws,  but  has  its  own  law,  which 
transcends  the  earthly.  Now,  whence  comes  that 
law  ?  Certainly  not  from  earth,  where  all  reaches  its 
issue,  and  vanishes  beyond  recall.  Is  that  no  indi- 
cation of  personal  immortality  ?  If  there  were  no 
personal  immortality,  would  you,  Nikolay  Lukitch, 
be  worrying  yourself  about  it,  be  searching  for  an 
answer,  be  writing  letters  like  this  ?  So  you  can't 
get  rid  of  your  "  I,  "you  see;  your  "  I  "will  not  subject 
itself  to  earthly  conditions,  but  seeks  for  something 
which  transcends  earth,  and  to  which  it  feels  itself 
akin.  But  whatever  I  write  falls  short  altogether — 
as  it  must.  I  cordially  press  your  hand,  and  take 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  STUDY  IN  PETERSBURG. 


MI.  56]        A  PERPLEXING  MOTHER  223 

my  leave.     Remain  in  your  unrest — seek  farther — it 
may  be  that  you  shall  find. 

Your  servant  and  true  friend, 

F.  DOSTOEVSKY. 


LXXI 

To  a  Mother 

PETERSBURG, 

March  27,  1878. 

MUCH-HONOURED  LADY  ! 

Your  letter  of  February  2nd  I  am  answering 
only  to-day,  after  a  month's  delay.  I  was  ill  and 
very  much  occupied,  and  so  beg  you  not  to  take 
amiss  this  dilatoriness. 

You  set  me  problems  which  one  could  treat  only 
in  long  essays,  and  assuredly  not  in  a  letter.  More- 
over, life  itself  can  alone  give  any  answer  to  such 
questions.  If  I  were  to  write  you  ten  sheets,  some 
misunderstanding,  which  would  easily  be  cleared  up 
in  a  verbal  interview,  might  cause  you  to  take  me 
up  quite  wrongly,  and  therefore  to  abjure  my  whole 
ten  sheets.  Can  one,  in  general,  when  wholly  un- 
acquainted, and  especially  in  a  letter,  treat  of  such 
matters  at  all  ?  I  consider  it  quite  impossible,  and 
believe  that  it  may  do  more  harm  than  good. 

From  your  letter  I  gather  that  you  are  a  good 
mother,  and  are  very  anxious  about  your  growing 
child.  I  cannot,  though,  at  all  imagine  of  what 
service  to  you  would  prove  the  solution  of  the 
questions  with  which  you  have  turned  to  me:  you 
set  yourself  too  hard  a  task,  and  your  perplexities  are 
exaggerated  and  morbid.  You  should  take  things 
much  more  simply.  You  ask  me,  for  instance,  "  What 
is  good,  and  what  is  not  good  ?"  To  what  do  such 
questions  lead  ?  They  concern  you  alone,  and  have 


324  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXXI 

nothing  whatever  to  do  with  the  bringing-up  of  your 
child.     Every  human  being,  who  can  grasp  the  truth 
at  all,  feels  in  his  conscience  what  is  good  and  what 
is  evil.     Be  good,  and  let  your  child  realize  that  you 
are  good;  in  that  way  you  will  wholly  fulfil  your 
duty  towards  your  child,  for  you  will  thus  give  him 
the  immediate  conviction  that  people  ought  to  be 
good.     Believe  me,  it  is  so.     Your  child  will  then 
cherish  your  memory  all  his  life  with  great  reverence, 
it  may  be  often  with  deep  emotion  as  well.  And  even  if 
you  do  something  wrong — that  is,  something  frivolous, 
morbid,  or  even  absurd — your  child  will  sooner  or 
later  forget  all  about  it,  and  remember  only  the  good 
things.     Mark  me:  in  general,  you  can  do  no  more 
than  this  for  your  child.     And  it  is  really  more  than 
enough.     The  memory  of  our  parents'  good  qualities 
— of  their  love  of  truth,  their  rectitude,  their  goodness 
of  heart,  of  their  freedom  from  false  shame  and  their 
constant  reluctance  to  deceive — all  this  will  sooner  or 
later  make  a  new  creature  of  your  child:  believe  me. 
And  do  not  think  that  this  is  a  small  thing.     When 
we  graft  a  tiny  twig  on  a  great  tree,  we  alter  all  the 
fruits  of  the  tree  thereby. 

Your  child  is  now  eight  years  old ;  make  him 
acquainted  with  the  Gospel,  teach  him  to  believe  in 
God,  and  that  in  the  most  orthodox  fashion.  This  is  a 
sine  qua  non ;  otherwise  you  can't  make  a  fine  human 
being  out  of  your  child,  but  at  best  a  sufferer,  and  at 
worst — a  careless  lethargic  "  success,"  which  is  a  still 
more  deplorable  fate.  You  will  never  find  anything 
better  than  the  Saviour  anywhere,  believe  me. 

Suppose  now  that  your  child  at  sixteen  or  seventeen 
(after  some  intercourse  with  corrupted  school-friends) 
comes  to  you  or  to  its  father,  and  puts  this  question : 
"  Why  am  I  to  love  you,  and  why  do  you  represent 
it  as  my  duty  ?"  Believe  me :  no  sort  of  "  questions  " 


XT.  56]     "  NO  SENSE  OF  MODERATION  "     225 

or  knowledge  will  help  you  then;  you  won't  be  able 
to  give  any  answer.  Therefore  it  is  that  you  must 
try  to  act  so  that  it  will  never  once  occur  to  your  child 
to  come  to  you  with  that  question.  But  that  will  be 
possible  only  if  your  child  is  attached  to  you  by  such 
love  as  would  prevent  such  a  question  from  ever 
coming  into,  its  head;  true,  that  at  school  such  views 
may  be  for  a  while  your  child's,  but  you  will  find  it 
easy  to  separate  the  false  from  the  true;  and  even  if 
you  should  really  have  to  listen  to  that  question,  you 
will  be  able  to  answer  with  just  a  smile,  and  quietly 
go  on  doing  well. 

If  you  grow  superfluously  and  exaggeratedly 
anxious  about  your  children,  you  may  easily  affect 
their  nerves  and  become  a  nuisance  to  them;  and 
that  might  happen  even  though  your  mutual  love 
were  great ;  therefore  you  must  be  careful  and 
cultivate  moderation  in  all  things.  It  seems  to  me 
that  in  this  respect  you  have  no  sense  at  all  of 
moderation.  In  your  letter,  for  example,  occurs  the 
following  sentence:  "  If  I  live  for  them  (that  is,  my 
husband  and  children),  it  is  an  egotistic  life;  dare  I 
live  thus  egotistically,  when  all  round  me  are  so 
many  people  who  need  my  help?"  What  an  idle 
and  unprofitable  thought  !  What  hinders  you  from 
living  for  others,  and  yet  remaining  a  good  wife  and 
mother  ?  On  the  contrary :  if  you  live  for  others 
also  and  share  with  them  your  earthly  goods  and  the 
emotions  of  your  heart,  you  set  your  children  a 
radiant  example,  and  your  husband  will  necessarily 
love  you  still  better  than  before.  But  since  such 
questions  come  into  your  head  at  all,  I  must  assume 
that  you  consider  it  to  be  your  duty  so  to  cleave  to 
your  husband  and  your  children  that  thereby  you 
forget  all  the  rest  of  the  world — that  is  to  say,  with- 
out any  moderation.  In  that  way  you  could  but 

15 


226  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS  [LXXI 

become  a  burden  to  your  child,  even  if  it  loved  you. 
It  may  easily  befall  that  your  sphere  of  activity  will 
suddenly  seem  to  you  too  narrow,  and  that  you  will 
aspire  to  a  wider  one,  perhaps  a  world- wide  one. 
But  has  anyone  at  all  any  right  to  aspire  to  that  ? 

Believe  me  :  it  is  uncommonly  important  and 
useful  to  set  a  good  example  even  in  a  narrow  sphere 
of  activity,  for  in  that  way  one  influences  dozens  and 
hundreds  of  people.  Your  purpose,  never  to  lie  but 
to  live  in  truth,  will  make  those  who  surround  you 
think,  thus  influencing  them.  That  in  itself  is  a  great 
deed.  In  such  ways  you  can  do  an  enormous 
amount.  It  were  truly  senseless  to  throw  all  aside, 
and  rush  with  such  questions  to  Petersburg,  meaning 
thereafter  to  enter  the  Academy  of  Medicine  or  the 
High  School  for  Women.  I  meet  here  daily  such 
women  and  girls;  what  frightful  narrowness  I  see  in 
them  !  And  all  who  once  were  good  for  something 
are  ruined  here.  Seeing  no  serious  activity  in  their 
environment,  they  begin  to  love  humanity  theoretic- 
ally, by  the  book  as  it  were ;  they  love  humanity,  and 
scorn  the  individual  unfortunate,  are  bored  in  his 
company,  and  therefore  avoid  him. 

I  really  don't  know  how  I  am  to  answer  your 
questions,  for  I  don't  understand  these  matters  at  all. 
When  a  child  betrays  an  evil  character,  it  is  of  course 
attributable  to  the  evil  tendencies  which  are  inborn  in 
him  (it  is  beyond  doubt  that  every  human  being  is 
born  with  evil  tendencies),  as  well  as  to  those  who 
have  his  bringing-up  in  hand,  and  are  either  incapable 
or  lazy,  so  that  they  neither  suppress  those  tendencies 
nor  (by  their  own  example)  lead  them  into  other 
directions.  Of  the  usefulness  of  that  work  I  really 
need  not  speak.  If  you  inculcate  good  propensities 
in  your  child,  the  work  will  bring  its  own  delight. 
Now  enough:  I  have  written  you  a  lot,  and  have 


;ET.  56]       THE  MOSCOW  STUDENTS  227 

tired  myself,  yet  have  really  said  little;  but  you  will 
no  doubt  understand  me. 
With  all  respect,  your  most  obedient  servant, 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 

P.S. — Peter  the  Great,  with  his  revenue  of  one 
and  a  half  millions,  might  well  have  led  an  easy 
lethargic  existence  at  the  Tsar's  Palace  in  Moscow; 
and  yet  he  worked  hard  all  his  life.  He  always 
wondered  at  those  who  do  not  work. 


LXXII 

To  a  Group  of  Moscow  Students*- 

PETERSBURG, 

April  1 8,  1878. 

MUCH-HONOURED  GENTLEMEN, 

Forgive  my  not  having  answered  you  for  so 
long;  I  was  definitely  ill,  and  other  circumstances 
besides  delayed  my  answer.  I  wished,  originally,  to 
reply  to  you  through  the  newspapers ;  but  it  appeared 
that,  for  reasons  against  which  I  am  powerless,  this 
was  not  feasible;  and,  anyhow,  I  could  not  have 
treated  your  questions  with  the  necessary  circum- 
stantiality in  the  press.  But  indeed,  what  can  I 
say  to  you  in  any  kind  of  a  letter  ?  Your  questions 
touch  upon  the  whole  interior  life  of  Russia:  do  you 
want  me  to  write  you  a  book  ?  Am  I  to  make  you 
my  full  confession  of  faith  ? 

Well,  finally  I  have  decided  to  write  you  this 
short  letter,  wherein  I  risk  being  completely  mis- 

1  On  April  3,  1878,  students  demonstrating  against  the 
arrest  of  some  colleagues  at  Kiev,  were  assaulted  and  beaten 
in  the  public  streets  by  the  butchers  (the  Moscow  meat- 
market  is  near  the  University).  A  group  of  the  students 
appealed  to  Dostoevsky  in  a  letter  of  protest. 


228  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [LXXII 

understood  by  you — a  result  which  would  be  most 
painful  to  me. 

You  write:  "  It  is  of  paramount  importance  that 
we  should  solve  the  problem  of  how  far  we  are  to 
blame  in  the  affair,  and  what  conclusions  society, 
no  less  than  we  ourselves,  should  draw  from  these 
incidents  ?" 

You  go  on  to  indicate  very  adroitly  and  precisely 
the  true  significance  of  the  relations  between  the  con- 
temporary Russian  press  and  the  younger  generation 
at  the  Universities. 

In  our  press  there  prevails  (with  regard  to  you)  "  a 
tone  of  condescension  and  indulgence."  That  is  very 
true ;  the  tone  is  indeed  condescending,  and  fashioned 
in  advance  upon  a  certain  pattern,  no  matter  what 
the  case;  in  short,  it  is  to  the  last  degree  insipid  and 
antiquated. 

You  write  further:  "  Plainly  we  have  nothing 
more  to  expect  from  these  people,  who  for  their  part 
expect  nothing  more  from  us,  and  so  turn  away, 
having  pronounced  their  annihilating  judgment  of 
us  as  '  savages.'  ' 

That  also  is  true:  they  do  indeed  turn  away  from 
you,  and  dismiss  you,  for  the  most  part,  from  their 
thoughts  (at  any  rate,  the  overwhelming  majority  do 
so).  But  there  are  men,  and  those  not  few  in 
number  both  on  the  press  and  in  society,  who  are 
horribly  perturbed  by  the  thought  that  the  younger 
generation  has  broken  with  the  people  (this,  first  in 
importance)  and  with  society.  For  such  is  actually 
the  case.  The  younger  generation  lives  in  dreams, 
follows  foreign  teaching,  cares  to  know  nothing  that 
concerns  Russia,  aspires,  rather,  to  instruct  the 
fatherland.  Consequently  it  is  to-day  beyond  all 
doubt  that  our  younger  generation  is  become  the 
prey  of  one  or  other  of  those  political  parties  which 


JBT.  55]     THE  YOUNGER  GENERATION       229 

influence  it  wholly  from  outside,  which  care  not  at 
all  for  its  interests,  but  use  it  simply  as  a  contribution 
— as  it  were  lambs  for  the  slaughter — to  their  own 
particular  ends.  Do  not  contradict  me,  gentlemen, 
for  it  is  so. 

You  ask  me,  gentlemen:  "  How  far  are  we  students 
to  blame  for  the  incidents  ?"  Here  is  my  answer:  I 
hold  that  you  are  in  no  wise  to  blame.  For  you  are 
but  children  of  the  very  society  from  which  you  now 
turn  away,  as  from  "  an  utter  fraud."  But  when  one 
of  our  students  thus  abjures  society,  he  does  not  go 
to  the  people,  but  to  a  nebulous  "  abroad  ";  he  flees 
to  Europeanism,  to  the  abstract  realm  of  fantastic 
"  Universal  Man,"  thus  severing  all  the  bonds  which 
still  connect  him  with  the  people:  he  scorns  the 
people  and  misjudges  them,  like  a  true  child  of  that 
society  with  which  he  likewise  has  broken.  And 
yet — with  the  people  lies  our  whole  salvation  (but 
this  is  a  big  subject).  .  .  .  Nevertheless,  the  younger 
generation  should  not  be  too  harshly  blamed  for  this 
rupture  with  the  people.  What  earthly  opportunity 
has  it  had,  before  entering  on  practical  life,  to  form 
any  ideas  whatever  about  the  people  ?  The  worst  of 
it  is,  though,  that  the  people  has  already  perceived 
that  the  younger  Russian  intelligences  have  broken 
with  it;  and  still  worse  again  is  the  fact  that  those 
young  men  whom  it  has  marked  down,  are  by  it 
designated  as  "  students."  The  people  have  long,  so 
long  as  from  the  beginning  of  the  'sixties,  been  watch- 
ful of  these  young  men;  all  those  among  them  who 
"  went  to  the  people  "  have  been  abhorred  by  the 
people.  The  people  call  them  "  these  young  gentle- 
men." I  know  for  certain  that  they  are  so  called.  As 
a  matter  of  fact,  the  people  also  are  wrong,  for  there 
has  never  yet  been  a  period  in  our  Russian  life  when 
the  young  men  (as  if  with  a  foreboding  that  Russia 


230  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [LXXII 

has  reached  a  certain  critical  point,  and  is  on  the 
edge  of  an  abyss)  were,  in  the  overwhelming  majority 
of  cases,  so  honest,  so  avid  for  the  truth,  so  joyfully 
willing  to  devote  their  lives  to  truth,  and  every  word 
that  truth  can  speak,  as  they  are  now.  In  ye  is 
veritably  the  great  hope  of  Russia  !  I  have  long  felt 
it,  and  have  already  long  been  writing  in  that  sense. 
But  what  has  come  of  it  now,  all  at  once  ?  Youth  is 
seeking  that  truth  of  which  it  is  so  avid — God  knows 
where  !  At  the  most  widely  diverse  sources  (another 
point  in  which  it  resembles  the  utterly  decadent 
Russo-European  society  which  has  produced  it) ;  but 
never  in  the  people,  never  in  its  native  soil.  The 
consequence  is  that,  at  the  given  decisive  moment, 
neither  society  nor  the  younger  generation  knows  the 
people.  Instead  of  living  the  life  of  the  people,  these 
young  men,  who  understand  the  people  in  no  wise, 
and  profoundly  scorn  its  every  fundamental  principle 
— for  example,  its  religion — go  to  the  people  not  to 
learn  to  know  it,  but  condescendingly  to  instruct  and 
patronize  it:  a  thoroughly  aristocratic  game!  The 
people  call  them  "  young  gentlemen,"  and  rightly. 
It  is  really  very  strange;  all  over  the  world,  the 
democrats  have  ever  been  on  the  side  of  the  people; 
with  us  alone  have  the  democratic  intellectuals 
leagued  themselves  with  the  aristocrats  against  the 
people;  they  go  among  the  people  "to  do  it  good," 
while  scorning  all  its  customs  and  ideals.  Such  scorn 
cannot  possibly  lead  to  love  ! 

Last  winter,  at  your  demonstration  before  the 
Kazan  Cathedral,1  the  rank  and  file  forced  their  way 
into  the  church,  smoked  cigarettes,  desecrated  the 
temple,  and  made  a  scandal.  "  Now  listen  to  me," 
I  should  have  said  to  those  students  (I  have  said  it  to 
many  of  them,  as  a  matter  of  fact),  "  you  do  not 

1  The  Cathedral  of  Our  Lady,  at  Kazan  in  Petersburg. 


JET.  55]          "  YOUNG  GENTLEMEN "  231 

believe  in  God,  and  that  is  your  own  affair ;  but  why 
do  you  insult  the  people  by  desecrating  its  temple  ?" 
The  people  once  more  retorted  with  its   "  young 
gentlemen,"  and,  far  worse,  with  "  students  " — though 
there  were  numbers  of  obscure  Jews  and  Armenians 
among  the  offenders  (the  demonstration  was,  as  we 
now  know,  a  political  one,  and  organized  from  out- 
side).    In  the  same  way,  after  the  Sassulitch1  case, 
the  people  dubbed  all  the  revolver-heroes  "  young 
gentlemen."    That  is  bad,  though  there  actually  were 
students  among  them.    Bad  is  it  too  that  the  people 
should  have  marked  down  the  students,  and  should 
treat  them  maliciously  and  inimically.      You  your- 
selves,  gentlemen,   in  accord  with  the  intellectual 
press,  designate  the  people  of  Moscow  as  "  butchers." 
What  may  that  mean  ?     Why  are  "  butchers  "  not 
members  of  the  people  ?     They  are,  and  of  the  true 
people;  was  not  the  great  Minin2  a  butcher  ?     Many 
are  at  this  moment  enraged  by  the  manner  in  which 
the  people  has  chosen  to  express  its  feelings.     But 
mark  this:  when  the  people  is  offended,  it  always 
manifests  its  emotion  in  that  manner.     The  people  is 
rough,  for  it  consists  of  peasants.    The  whole  thing 
was  in  reality  but  the  breaking  out  of  a  misunder- 
standing which  has  existed,  time  out  of  mind  (and 
has  hitherto  been  merely  unperceived),  between  the 
people  and  society,  that  is  to  say,  the  younger  genera- 
tion, which  stands  for  fieriness  and  rash  impulses. 
The  thing  certainly  was  very  ill  done,  and  not  at  all 
as  it  ought  to  have  been,  for  with  fists  one  can 
demonstrate  nothing.    But  so  it  has  been  ever  and 
everywhere,  with  every  people.     The  English  often 
come  to  blows  at  their  public  meetings;  the  French 

1  Vera  Sassulitch,  a  notorious  Terrorist,   was  tried  for  a 
political  crime,  but  was  acquitted  by  the  jury. 
8  Minin  was  a  national  hero  in  the  interregnum  of  1610-13. 


232  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [LXXII 

sang  and  danced  before  the  guillotine,  while  it  did  its 
work.  But  the  fact  remains  that  the  people  (the 
whole  people,  not  only  the  "butchers";  it  is  poor 
consolation  to  call  names)  has  revolted  against  the 
3'ounger  generation,  and  has  marked  down  the 
students;  on  the  other  hand,  it  is  true,  we  must 
acknowledge  the  no  less  perturbing  fact  (and  very 
significant  it  is)  that  the  press,  society,  and  the  young 
men  have  conspired  to  misjudge  the  people,  and  to 
say:  "  This  is  no  people,  but  a  mob." 

Gentlemen,  if  you  find  anything  in  my  words  which 
contravenes  your  views,  your  best  plan  will  be  not  to 
get  angry  with  me  about  it.  There  is  trouble  enough 
without  that.  In  our  putrid  society,  nothing  reigns 
but  sheer  deception.  It  can  no  longer  hold  together 
by  its  own  strength.  The  people  alone  is  strong  and 
steadfast,  but  between  society  and  the  people  there 
have  reigned  for  the  last  ten  years  most  terrible  mis- 
understandings. When  our  sentimentalists  freed  the 
people  from  serfdom,  they  believed,  in  full  tide  of 
emotion,  that  the  people  would  instantly  take  to  its 
bosom  that  European  fraud  which  they  call  civilization. 
But  the  people  showed  itself  to  be  very  independent, 
and  now  it  is  beginning  to  realize  the  insincerity  of 
the  upper  stratum  in  our  society.  The  events  of  the 
last  couple  of  years  have  but  strengthened  it,  and 
made  many  things  clear  to  its  eyes.  Nevertheless, 
the  people  can  distinguish  between  its  enemies  and 
its  friends.  Assuredly  many  sad  and  deplorable  facts 
must  be  recognized:  sincere,  honest  young  men, 
earnestly  seeking  the  truth,  went  on  their  quest  to 
the  people,  trying  to  alleviate  its  woes.  And  what 
happened  ?  The  people  drove  them  away,  and  refused 
to  recognize  their  honest  efforts.  For  those  young 
men  hold  the  people  to  be  otherwise  than  as  it 
is ;  they  hate  and  despise  its  ideals,  and  offer  it 


JET.  55]          THE  RUSSIAN  PEOPLE  233 

remedies  which  it  cannot  but  regard  as  senseless  and 
crazy. 

With  us  in  Petersburg  the  devil  is  indeed  let 
loose.  Among  the  young  men  reigns  the  cult  of  the 
revolver,  and  the  conviction  that  the  Government  is 
afraid  of  them.  The  people,  now  as  ever,  despises  the 
young  men,  and  reckons  not  at  all  with  them;  but 
they  do  not  perceive  that  the  people  has  no  fear  of 
them  and  will  never  lose  its  head.  What,  when 
another  encounter  takes  place,  will  come  of  it  ? 
Gentlemen,  we  live  in  disquieting  times  ! 

I  have  written  you,-  gentlemen,  what  I  could.  At 
any  rate  I  have,  though  not  sufficiently  at  length, 
answered  your  question:  In  my  view,  the  students 
are  in  no  wise  to  blame,  but  the  contrary ;  our  youth 
was  never  yet  so  sincere  and  honest  as  now  (a  fact 
which  has  its  significance,  great  and  historical).  But 
unhappily  our  youth  bears  about  with  it  the  whole 
delusion  of  our  two  centuries  of  history.  Conse- 
quently it  has  not  the  power  thoroughly  to  sift  the 
facts,  and  is  in  no  sense  to  blame,  particularly  as  it 
is  an  interested  party  in  the  affair  (and,  moreover, 
the  offended  party) .  Blessed,  none  the  less,  be  those 
who  shall  find  the  right  path  in  these  circumstances  ! 
The  breach  with  environment  is  bound  to  be  much 
more  decisive  than  the  breach  between  the  society  of 
to-day  and  to-morrow,  which  the  Socialists  prophesy. 
For  if  one  wants  to  go  to  the  people  and  remain  with 
the  people,  one  must  first  of  all  learn  not  to  scorn 
the  people;  and  this  it  is  well-nigh  impossible  for  our 
upper  class  to  do.  In  the  second  place,  one  must 
believe  in  God,  which  is  impossible  for  Russian 
Europeans  (though  the  genuine  Europeans  of  Europe 
do  believe  in  God). 

I  greet  you,  gentlemen,  and,  if  you  will  permit  me, 
grasp  your  hands.  If  you  want  to  do  me  a  great 


234  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [LXXIII 

pleasure,  do  not,  for  God's  sake,  regard  me  as  a 
preacher  who  sets  up  to  lecture  you.  You  have 
called  upon  me  to  tell  you  the  truth  with  my  soul 
and  conscience,  and  I  have  told  you  the  truth  as  I 
see  it,  and  as  best  I  can.  For  no  man  can  do  more 
than  his  powers  and  capacities  permit  him. 
Your  devoted 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


LXXIII 

To  Mile.  N.  N. 

PETERSBURG, 

April  ii,  iSSo. 

MUCH-HONOURED  AND  GRACIOUS  LADY, 

Forgive  my  having  left  your  beautiful  kind 
letter  unanswered  for  so  long;  do  not  regard  it  as 
negligence  on  my  part.  I  wanted  to  say  something 
very  direct  and  cordial  to  you,  but  my  life  goes  by, 
I  vow,  in  such  disorder  and  hurry  that  it  is  only  at 
rare  moments  that  I  belong  to  myself  at  all.  Even 
now,  when  at  last  I  have  a  moment  in  which  to  write 
to  you,  I  shall  be  able  to  impart  but  a  tiny  fragment 
of  all  that  fills  my  heart,  and  that  I  should  like  to 
touch  upon  with  you.  Your  opinion  of  me  is  extra- 
ordinarily precious  to  me;  your  lady-mother  has 
shown  me  the  passage  in  your  letter  to  her  which 
relates  to  myself,  and  your  words  moved  me  pro- 
foundly, nay  !  even  astonished  me :  for  I  know  that 
as  a  writer  I  have  many  faults,  and  even  I  myself  am 
never  satisfied  with  myself.  I  must  tell  you  that  in 
those  frequent  and  grievous  moments  wherein  I  seek 
to  judge  myself,  I  come  to  the  painful  conclusion  that 
in  my  works  I  never  have  said  so  much  as  the 
twentieth  part  of  what  I  wished  to  say,  and  perhaps 


DOSTOKVSKY,    1'KTKRSHURG,    1879. 


£i.  58]  AN  ADMIRER  235 

could,  actually,  have  said.  My  only  refuge  is  the 
constant  hope  that  God  will  some  day  bestow  upon 
me  such  inspiration  and  such  power  as  are  requisite 
to  bring  to  full  expression  all  that  fills  my  heart  and 
imagination.  Recently  there  took  place  here  the 
public  debate  by  the  young  philosopher  Vladimir 
Solovyov  (a  son  of  the  renowned  historian)  of  his 
thesis  for  Doctor's  degree;  and  I  heard  him  make 
the  following  profound  remark:  "  I  am  firmly  con- 
vinced that  mankind  knows  much  more  than  it  has 
hitherto  expressed  either  in  science  or  art."  Just  so 
it  is  with  me :  I  feel  that  much  more  is  contained  in 
me  than  I  have  as  yet  uttered  in  my  writings.  And 
if  I  lay  all  false  modesty  aside,  I  must  acknowledge 
that  even  in  what  I  have  written,  there  is  much  that 
came  from  the  very  depth  of  my  heart.  I  swear  to 
you  that  though  I  have  received  much  recognition, 
possibly  more  than  I  deserve,  still  the  critics,  the 
literary  newspaper  critics,  who  certainly  have  often 
(no,  rather,  very  seldom)  praised  me,  nevertheless 
have  always  spoken  of  me  so  lightly  and  superficially 
that  I  am  obliged  to  assume  that  all  those  things 
which  my  heart  brought  forth  with  pain  and  tribula- 
tion, and  which  came  directly  from  my  soul,  have 
simply  passed  unperceived.  From  this  you  can 
divine  what  a  pleasant  impression  must  have  been 
made  upon  me  by  the  delicate  and  searching  com- 
ments on  my  work  which  I  read  in  your  letter  to 
your  lady-mother. 

But  I  am  writing  only  of  myself,  which  after  all  in 
a  letter  to  the  discerning  and  sympathetic  critic  whom 
I  perceive  in  you  is  natural  enough.  You  write 
to  me  of  the  phase  which  your  mind  is  just  now 
undergoing.  I  know  that  you  are  an  artist — a  painter. 
Permit  me  to  give  you  a  piece  of  advice  which  truly 
comes  from  my  heart:  stick  to  your  art,  and  give 


236  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [LXXIII 

yourself  up  to  it  even  more  than  hitherto.     I  know, 
for  I  have  heard  (do  not  take  this  ill  of  me)  that  you 
are  not  happy.    To  live  alone,  and  continually  to 
reopen  the  wounds  in  your  heart  by  dwelling  upon 
memories,  may  well  make  your  life  too  drear  for 
endurance.    There  is  but  one  cure,  one  refuge,  for 
that  woe:  art,  creative  activity.     But  do  not  put  it 
upon  yourself  to  write  me  your  confession :  that  would 
assuredly  tax  you  too  far.     Forgive  me  for  offering 
you  advice;  I  should  very  much  like  to  see  you  and 
say  a  few  words  face  to  face.     After  the  letter  that 
you  have  written,  I  must  necessarily  regard  you  as 
one  dear  to  me,  as  a  being  akin  to  my  soul,  as  my 
heart's  sister — how  could  I  fail  to  feel  with  you  ? 
But  now  to  what  you  have  told  me  of  your  inward 
duality.    That  trait  is  indeed  common  to  all  ... 
that  is,  all  who  are  not  wholly  commonplace.     Nay, 
it  is  common  to  human  nature,  though  it  does  not 
evince  itself  so  strongly  in  all  as  it  does  in  you.     It 
is  precisely  on  this  ground  that  I  cannot  but  regard 
you  as  a  twin  soul,  for  your  inward  duality  corre- 
sponds most  exactly  to  my  own.     It  causes  at  once 
great   torment,    and   great    delight.      Such    duality 
simply  means  that  you  have  a  strong  sense  of  your- 
self, much  aptness  for  self-criticism,  and  an  innate 
feeling  for  your  moral  duty  to  yourself  and  all  man- 
kind.    If  your  intelligence  were  less  developed,  if  you 
were  more  limited,  you  would  be  less  sensitive,  and 
would  not  possess  that  duality.     Rather  the  reverse : 
in  its  stead  would  have  appeared  great  arrogance. 
Yet  such  duality  is  a  great  torment.     My  dear,  my 
revered  Mile.  N.  N.,  do  you  believe  in  Christ  and  in 
His  commandments  ?     If  you  believe  in  Him  (or  at 
least  have  a  strong  desire  to  do  so) ,  then  give  yourself 
wholly  up  to  Him;  the  pain  of  your  duality  will  be 
thereby  alleviated,  and  you  will  find  the  true  way 


JST.  58]        HIS  SPEECH  AT  MOSCOW  237 

out — but  belief  is  first  of  all  in  importance.  Forgive 
the  untidiness  of  my  letter.  If  you  only  knew  how 
I  am  losing  the  capacity  to  write  letters,  and  what  a 
difficulty  I  find  it  !  But  having  gained  such  a  friend 
as  you,  I  don't  wish  to  lose  her  in  a  hurry. 

Farewell.      Your    most    devoted    and    heartfelt 
friend, 

F.   DOSTOEVSKY. 


LXXIV 
To  Frau  E.  A.  Stackenschneider 

STARAYA-ROUSSA, 

July  17,  1880. 

MUCH-ESTEEMED  ELENA  ANDREYEVNA, 

I  must  call  upon  all  your  humanity  and  in- 
dulgence when  I  ask  you  to  forgive  me  for  having 
left  your  beautiful  kind  letter  of  June  19  so  long 
unanswered.  But  I  shall  beg  you  to  consider  facts; 
you  may  then  perhaps  find  it  in  your  power  to  be 
indulgent  even  to  me.  On  June  n  I  returned  from 
Moscow  to  Staraya-Roussa,  was  frightfully  tired,  but 
sat  down  at  once  to  the  "  Karamazovs,"  and  wrote 
three  whole  sheets  at  one  blow.  After  I  had  sent  off 
the  MS.,  I  applied  myself  to  the  reading  of  all  the  news- 
paper articles  that  dealt  with  my  speech  at  Moscow 
(I  had  been  so  busy  till  then  that  I  had  had  no  time 
for  them),  and  I  decided  to  write  a  rejoinder  to 
Granovsky;  it  was  to  be  not  so  much  an  answer  to 
him  as  a  manifesto  of  our  faith  for  all  Russia :  for  the 
significant  and  moving  crisis  in  the  life  of  our  society 
which  declared  itself  at  Moscow,  during  the  Pushkin 
celebrations,  was  deliberately  misrepresented  by  the 
press,  and  thrust  of  set  purpose  into  the  background. 
Our  press,  particularly  that  of  Petersburg,  was 


238  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS        [LXXIV 

alarmed  by  this  new  development,  which  is  indeed 
without  parallel:  society  has  plainly  shown  that  it 
has  had  enough  of  the  everlasting  jeering  and  spitting 
at  Russia,  and  is  consequently  desirous  of  something 
different.  But  that  fact  had  of  course  to  be  distorted, 
hushed-up,  laughed  at,  misrepresented:  "  Nothing  of 
the  sort  !  It  was  but  the  general  beatitude  after 
the  opulent  Moscow  banquets.  The  gentlemen  had 
simply  over-eaten  themselves. "  I  had  already  decided, 
at  Moscow,  to  publish  my  speech  in  the  Moskovskoie 
Viedomosti,1  and  to  bring  out  a  number  of  the  Diary 
immediately  afterwards  in  Petersburg;  in  that 
number,  which,  by-the-bye,  will  be  the  only  one 
this  year,  I  thought  of  printing  my  speech,  with  a 
preamble,  moreover,  which  occurred  to  me  the  very 
instant  I  had  finished  speaking — on  the  platform 
itself,  at  the  moment  when,  together  with  Aksakov 
and  the  rest,  even  Turgenev  and  Annenkov  rushed 
up  to  cover  me  with  kisses,  and  then  shook  hands 
with  me,  protesting  over  and  over  again  that  I  had 
done  great  things.  God  grant  they're  of  the  same 
opinion  still ! 

I  can  vividly  imagine  how  they  now  criticize  my 
speech,  having  recovered  from  their  first  enthusiasm 
— and  indeed  this  is  precisely  the  theme  of  my 
preamble.  When  the  speech,  with  the  preamble,  had 
been  sent  to  the  printers  in  Petersburg,  nay,  when  I 
actually  had  the  proofs  in  my  hands,  I  suddenly 
resolved  to  write  yet  another  chapter  for  the  Diary 
in  the  shape  of  my  profession  de  foi  for  Granovsky ; 
it  grew  into  two  sheets,  I  put  my  whole  soul  into 
the  article,  and  have  sent  it  to  the  printers  only 
this  very  day.  Yesterday  was  Fedya's  birthday. 
We  had  visitors,  but  I  sat  apart  and  finished  the 
article.  So  you  see  that  you  must  not  take  it  ill  that 
1  The  Moscow  News. 


^T.  58]  TURGENEV'S  INSULT  239 

I  am  answering  your  letter  only  now.  I  dearly  love 
you,  as  you  well  know  !  I  could  never  give  my 
Moscow  impressions  in  a  letter,  still  less  my  present 
state  of  mind.  I  am  filled  up  with  work — it  is  real 
hard  labour.  I  want  to  have  the  fourth  and  last  part 
of  "  The  Brothers  Karamazov  "  ready  in  September 
at  all  costs,  and  when  I  return  to  Petersburg  in  the 
autumn,  I  shall  be  comparatively  free  for  a  while ;  in 
that  clear  time  I  want  to  get  myself  ready  for  the 
Diary,  with  which  I  propose  to  go  on  in  the  coming 
year  1881. 

Are  you  on  a  summer  holiday  ?  How  did  the 
Moscow  news  reach  you  ?  I  don't  know  what 
Gayevsky  may  have  told  you,  but  the  affair  with 
Katkov  was  not  a  bit  like  what  you  think.  The 
Society  of  Lovers  of  Russian  Literature,  which 
organized  the  festival,  seriously  insulted  Katkov  by 
asking  him  to  return  the  invitation-card  which  he 
had  originally  received ;  Katkov  had  made  his  speech 
at  the  banquet  held  by  the  Town  Council,  and  at  the 
Town  Council's  request.  Turgenev  had  no  grounds 
whatever  for  anticipating  any  affront  from  Katkov; 
Katkov  was  much  more  justified  in  dreading  some 
sort  of  annoyance.  For  Turgenev  there  had  been 
prepared  so  colossal  a  reception  (by  Kovalevsky  and 
the  University  people)  that  he  really  had  nothing  to 
fear.  Turgenev  insulted  Katkov  first.  When,  after 
Katkov's  speech,  such  men  as  Ivan  Aksakov  went  up 
to  clink  glasses  with  him  (even  his  opponents  did 
that),  Katkov  stretched  out  his  hand  with  the  glass 
in  it  to  Turgenev,  that  they,  too,  might  clink;  but 
Turgenev  drew  his  hand  away,  and  would  not.  So 
Turgenev  himself  told  me. 

You  ask  me  to  send  you  my  speech.  But  I  have 
not  a  single  transcript  of  it,  and  the  only  copy  is  at 
the  printers,  where  the  Diary  is  now  being  set  up. 


240  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS          [LXXV 

The  Diary  will  appear  about  August  5 ;  bestow 
some  attention  on  that  number,  and  show  it,  also, 
to  my  dear  collaborator,  Andrey  Andreyevitch.  I 
should  like  to  hear  his  opinion  too. 

Your  devoted 

DOSTOEVSKY. 

LXXV 
To  N.  L.  Osmidov 

STARAYA-ROUSSA, 

August  1 8,  1880. 

MUCH-ESTEEMED  NIKOLAY  LUKITCH  ! 

I  have  read  your  letter  very  attentively;  but 
how  am  I  to  answer  it  ?  You  remark  yourself,  most 
justly,  that  one  can't  really  say  anything  at  all  in  a 
letter.  I  too  am  of  opnion  that  one  can  deal  only 
with  quite  ordinary  matters  in  any  satisfactory  way. 
But  besides  that,  it  really  would  be  idle  for  you  to 
come  even  personally  for  advice  to  me,  for  I  don't 
consider  myself  competent  to  resolve  your  questions. 
You  write  that  hitherto  you  have  given  your 
daughter  nothing  that  is  purely  literary  to  read,  lest 
her  fancy  should  become  over-developed.  This  does 
not  appear  to  me  entirely  a  right  point  of  view;  for 
fancy  is  an  unborn  capacity  of  human  beings ;  in 
a  child,  it  outweighs  all  othtrs,  and  should  most 
undoubtedly  be  nourished.  For  if  we  give  a  child's 
imagination  no  nourishment,  it  may  easily  die  out, 
or,  on  the  other  hand,  may  over-develop  itself  from 
its  own  sheer  force,  which  is  no  less  undesirable. 
For  such  an  abnormal  over-development  prematurely 
exhausts  the  child's  mental  powers.  And  impres- 
sions of  the  beautiful,  moreover,  are  precisely  in 
childhood  of  the  greatest  importance. 


JET.  58]        CHILDISH  IMAGINATION  241 

When  I  was  ten  years  old,  I  saw  at  Moscow  a 
performance  of  "Die  Rauber,"1  with  Motchalov  in 
one  of  the  chief  parts,  and  I  can  only  say  that  the 
deep  impression  which  that  performance  made  upon 
me  has  worked  most  fruitfully  ever  since  upon  my 
whole  mental  development.  At  twelve,  I  read  right 
through  Walter  Scott  during  the  summer  holidays; 
certainly  such  reading  did  extraordinarily  stimulate 
my  imagination  and  sensibility,  but  it  led  them  into 
good,  not  evil,  paths;  I  got  from  it  many  fine  and 
noble  impressions,  which  gave  my  soul  much  power 
of  resistance  against  others  which  were  seductive, 
violent,  and  corrupting.  So  I  advise  you  to  give 
your  daughter  now  the  works  of  Walter  Scott,  and 
all  the  more,  because  he  is  for  the  moment  neglected 
by  us  Russians,  and  your  daughter,  when  she  is  older, 
will  have  neither  opportunity  nor  desire  to  make 
acquaintance  with  that  great  writer ;  therefore  hasten 
now,  while  she  is  still  in  her  parents'  house,  to  intro- 
duce him  to  her.  Besides,  Walter  Scott  has  a  high 
educational  value.  She  should  also  read  all  Dickens's 
works  without  exception.  Make  her  acquainted,  too, 
with  the  literature  of  past  centuries  ("  Don  Quixote," 
"  Gil  Bias,"  etc.).  It  would  be  best  for  her  to  begin 
with  poetry.  She  should  read  all  Pushkin,  verse  as 
well  as  prose.  Gogol  likewise.  If  you  like,  Turgenev 
and  Gontscharov  as  well;  as  to  my  own  works,  I  don't 
think  that  all  of  them  are  suitable  for  your  daughter. 
It  would  be  well  for  her  to  read  Schlosser's  "  Welt- 
geschichte,"  and  Solovyov's  Russian  history;  nor 
should  she  omit  Karamsin.  Don't  give  her  Kosto- 
marov  as  yet.  The  "  Conquest  of  Peru  and  Mexico  " 
by  Prescott  is  most  necessary.  In  general,  historical 
works  have  immense  educational  value.  She  should 
read  Leo  Tolstoy  all  through;  also  Shakespeare, 

1  A  tragedy  by  Schiller. 

16 


242  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS         [LXXVI 

Schiller,  and  Goethe;  these  writers  are  to  be  had  in 
good  Russian  translations.  That  will  be  enough  for 
the  present.  With  time,  in  a  few  years,  you  will  see 
yourself  that  there  is  much  besides.  Journalistic 
reading  should,  in  the  beginning  at  any  rate,  be  kept 
from  her.  I  don't  know  if  my  advice  will  commend 
itself  to  you.  I  write  after  much  reflection,  and  out 
of  my  own  personal  experience.  I  shall  be  very  glad 
if  it  is  really  of  use  to  you.  I  think  a  personal  visit 
from  you  is  quite  superfluous  at  present,  and  the 
more,  because  I  am  very  much  occupied.  But  I 
must  say  once  again  that  I  am  not  particularly  com- 
petent in  such  matters. 

The  number  of  the  Diary  that  you  asked  for  has 
been  sent  to  you.  It  comes,  with  postage,  to  35 
kopecks;  so  the  balance  of  65  kopecks  stands  to 
your  credit  with  me. 

Yours  truly  and  faithfully, 

F.  DOSTOEVSKY. 

LXXVI 

To  I.  S.  Aksakov 

STARAYA-ROUSSA, 

August  28,  1880. 
MY  DEAR  AND  HONOURED  IVAN  SERGEYEVITCH, 

I  meant  to  answer  your  first  letter  by  return, 
and  now,  having  received  your  second,  so  precious  to 
me,  I  see  that  I  have  a  great  deal  to  say  to  you. 
Never  yet  in  my  life  have  I  found  a  critic  who  was  so 
sincere,  and  so  very  sympathetic  for  my  work.  I  had 
almost  forgotten  that  there  could  be  such  critics,  and 
that  they  actually  exist.  I  don't  mean  to  say  by  this 
that  I  see  absolutely  eye-to-eye  with  you  in  all  things, 
but  I  must,  at  any  rate,  point  out  the  following  fact : 


DOSTOKVSKY,    MOSCOW,    1880. 


JET.  59]  HIS  LAST  NOVEL  243 

Although  I  have  been  issuing  my  Diary  for  two  years 
now,  and  consequently  have  some  experience,  I  am 
still  beset  by  doubts  in  many  respects — as  to  what 
I  am  to  say  about  certain  matters,  what  tone  I  am  to 
adopt,  and  on  what  subjects  I  should  keep  silence 
altogether.  Your  letter  came  just  in  such  a  moment 
of  hesitation,  for  I  have  firmly  resolved  to  continue 
my  Diary  in  the  coming  year,  and  so  I  am  much 
perturbed,  and  often  put  up  my  prayer  to  Him  on 
whom  one  should  ever  call  for  the  needful  strength, 
and  above  all  the  needful  ability.  Thus  it  peculiarly 
rejoices  me  to  have  you;  for  now  I  see  that  I  can 
impart  to  you  at  least  a  portion  of  my  questionings, 
and  that  you  can  always  answer  me  with  something 
most  frank  and  far-seeing.  This  conviction  I  have 
gained  from  your  two  last  letters.  Unfortunately 
I  should  have  to  write  you  a  lot  about  all  this,  and 
just  now  I  am  very  busy,  and  not  at  all  inclined  for 
letters.  You  simply  can't  imagine  how  frightfully 
busy  I  am,  day  and  night ;  it  is  real  hard  labour  ! 
For  I  am  now  finishing  the  "  Karamazovs,"  and  con- 
sequently summing  up  the  entire  work,  which  is 
personally  very  dear  to  me,  for  I  have  put  a  great 
deal  of  my  inmost  self  into  it.  I  work,  in  general, 
very  nervously,  with  pain  and  travail  of  soul.  When- 
ever I  am  writing,  I  am  physically  ill.  And  now 
I  have  to  sum  up  all  that  I  have  pondered,  gathered, 
set  down,  in  the  last  three  years.  I  must  make  this 
work  good  at  all  costs,  or  at  least  as  good  as  /  can. 
I  simply  don't  know  how  anyone  can  write  at  great 
speed,  and  only  for  the  money's  sake.  Now  the  time 
is  come  when  I  must  wind  up  this  novel,  and  that 
without  delay.  You  will  hardly  believe  me :  many  a 
chapter,  for  which  I  had  been  making  notes  all 
those  three  years,  I  was  obliged,  after  finally  setting 
it  down,  to  reject,  and  write  anew.  Only  separate 


244  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS       [LXXVII 

passages,  which  were  directly  inspired  by  enthusiasm, 
came  off  at  first  writing;  all  the  rest  was  hard  work. 
For  these  reasons  I  can't  possibly  write  to  you  at  the 
moment,  despite  my  ardent  desire;  I  am  not  in  the 
requisite  state  of  mind,  and  moreover  I  do  not  wish 
to  dissipate  my  energies.  I  shall  not  be  able  to  write 
to  you  until  about  September  10,  when  I  shall  have 
the  work  behind  me.  In  the  meantime,  I  shall 
thoroughly  ponder  my  letter,  for  the  questions  in 
hand  are  weighty,  and  I  want  to  present  them  as 
lucidly  as  may  be.  So  do  not  be  angry  with  me,  nor 
accuse  me  of  indifference;  if  you  only  knew  what  an 
error  that  would  be  on  your  part ! 

In  the  meantime  I  embrace  you,  and  thank  you 
from  my  heart.  I  need  you,  and  must  therefore 
love  you. 

Your  truly  devoted 
*  F.  DOSTOEVSKY. 


LXXVII 

To  Doctor  A-  F.  Blagonravov1 

PETERSBURG, 

December  19,  1880. 

HONOURED  ALEXANDER  FYODOROVITCH, 

I  thank  you  for  your  letter.  You  judge  very 
rightly  when  you  opine  that  I  hold  all  evil  to  be 
grounded  upon  disbelief,  and  maintain  that  he  who 
abjures  nationalism,  abjures  faith  also.  That  applies 
especially  to  Russia,  for  with  us  national  con- 
sciousness is  based  on  Christianity.  "  A  Christian 

*  Doctor  Blagonravov  had  given  Dostoevsky  his  opinion 
(from  a  physician's  point  of  view)  upon  the  masterly  descrip- 
tion of  the  hallucination  of  Ivan  Karamazov  in  the  last  part 
of  the  novel. 


JET.  59]      NATIONAL  CONSCIOUSNESS          245 

peasant-people  " ;  "  believing  Russia  " :  these  are  our 
fundamental  conceptions.  A  Russian  who  abjures 
nationalism  (and  there  are  many  such)  is  either  an 
atheist  or  indifferent  to  religious  questions.  And  the 
converse :  an  atheist  or  indifferentist  cannot  possibly 
understand  the  Russian  people  and  Russian  nation- 
alism. The  essential  problem  of  our  day  is :  How  are 
we  to  persuade  our  educated  classes  of  this  principle  ? 
If  one  but  utters  a  word  in  such  a  sense,  one  will 
either  be  devoured  alive,  or  denounced  as  a  traitor. 
And  whom  shall  one  have  betrayed  ?  Truly,  naught 
but  a  party  which  has  lost  touch  with  reality,  and  for 
which  not  even  a  label  can  be  found,  for  they  know 
not  themselves  what  to  call  themselves.  Or  is  it 
the  people  whom  one  shall  have  betrayed  ?  No ;  for 
I  desire  with  the  people  to  abide,  for  only  from  the 
people  is  anything  worth  while  to  be  looked  for — not 
from  the  educated  class,  which  abjures  the  people, 
and  is  not  even  "  educated." 

But  a  new  generation  is  on  the  way,  which  will 
desire  union  with  the  people.  The  first  sign  of  true 
fellowship  with  the  people  is  veneration  and  love  for 
that  which  the  great  mass  of  the  people  loves  and 
venerates — that  is  to  say,  for  its  God  and  its  faith. 

This  new  Russian  intelligence  is  beginning,  as  it 
seems  to  me,  to  lift  its  head,  and  precisely  now  is  its 
co-operation  in  the  common  task  essential;  and  this 
it  is  coming,  itself,  to  perceive. 

Because  I  preach  faith  in  God  and  in  the  people, 
the  gentry  here  would  like  to  see  me  disappear  from 
the  face  of  the  earth.  Because  of  that  chapter  in  the 
"  Karamazovs  "  (of  the  hallucination)  with  which  you, 
as  a  physician,  are  so  pleased,  it  has  already  been 
sought  to  stamp  me  as  a  reactionary  and  fanatic, 
who  has  come  to  believe  in  the  Devil.  The  gentle- 
men here,  in  their  simplicity,  imagine  that  the  public 


246  DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS       [LXXVJI 

will  cry  out  with  one  voice:  "  What  ?  Dostoevsky 
has  begun  to  write  about  the  Devil  now,  has  he  ? 
How  obsolete  and  borne  he  is  !"  But  I  believe  that 
they  will  find  themselves  mistaken.  I  thank  you  for 
having,  as  a  physician,  attested  for  me  the  authen- 
ticity of  my  description  of  the  psychical  sickness  of 
my  hero.  The  opinion  of  one  who  is  an  expert  in 
the  matter  is  very  valuable  to  me ;  you  will,  I  doubt 
not,  allow  that  Ivan  Karamazov,  in  the  given  circum- 
stances, could  have  had  no  different  hallucination. 
I  mean  to  give,  in  the  very  next  number  of  the 
Diary,  some  of  the  critical  pronouncements  on  that 
particular  chapter. 

With    the    assurance    of    my    sincere    respect,    I 
remain 

Yours  most  faithfully, 

FYODOR  DOSTOEVSKY. 


Recollections  of  Dostoevsky 

by  his  Friends 

FROM  THE  REMINISCENCES  OF 
D.  V.  GRIGOROVITCH 

1837—1846 

IT  is  a  mystery  to  me  to  this  day  how  I,  innately  the 
most  extraordinarily  nervous  and  timid  of  boys,  ever 
got  through  my  first  year  in  the  College  of  Engineer- 
ing, where  one's  comrades  were  far  more  ruthless  and 
cruel  even  than  one's  teachers. 

Amongst  the  young  men  who  were  admitted  to 
the  College  after  I  had  been  there  about  a  year,  was  a 
youth  of  some  seventeen  summers,  of  middle  height, 
full  figure,  blond  hair,  and  sickly,  pale  countenance. 
This  youth  was  Fyodor  Michailovitch  Dostoevsky. 
He  had  come  from  Moscow  to  Petersburg  with  his 
elder  brother  Michael.  The  latter  did  not  enter  the 
College,  but  joined  the  Corps  of  Sappers,  and  was 
later  sent  to  Reval  on  his  promotion  to  commis- 
sioned rank.  Many  years  later  Michael  Dostoevsky 
took  his  discharge,  and  returned  to  Petersburg. 
There  he  started  a  cigarette  manufactory,  but  at  the 
same  time  busied  himself  in  literature,  translated 
Goethe,  wrote  a  comedy,  and,  after  Fyodor's  return 
from  banishment,  became  editor  of  the  Epoch. 

I  made  friends  with  Fyodor  Dostoevsky  the  very 
first  day  that  he  entered  the  College.  It's  half-a- 

247 


248     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

century  ago  now,  but  I  can  well  remember  how  much 
more  I  cared  for  him  than  for  any  of  the  other  friends 
of  my  youth.  Despite  his  reticent  nature  and  general 
lack  of  frankness  and  youthful  expansion,  he  appeared 
to  reciprocate  my  affection.  Dostoevsky  always  held 
himself  aloof,  even  then,  from  others,  never  took  part 
in  his  comrades'  amusements,  and  usually  sat  in  a 
remote  corner  with  a  book ;  his  favourite  place  was  a 
corner  in  Class-Room  IV.  by  the  window.  Out  of 
school-hours,  he  nearly  always  sat  with  a  book  by 
that  window. 

I  had,  as  a  boy,  a  pliant  character,  and  was  easily 
influenced;  thus  my  relations  with  Dostoevsky  were 
those  of  not  merely  attachment,  but  absolute  sub- 
jection. His  influence  was  extraordinarily  beneficial 
to  me.  Dostoevsky  was  much  more  advanced  in  all 
knowledge  than  I  was,  and  the  extent  of  his  reading 
amazed  me.  The  many  things  he  told  me  about  the 
works  of  writers,  whose  very  names  to  me  were 
unknown,  came  as  a  revelation.  Hitherto  I  had,  like 
the  rest  of  my  colleagues,  read  nothing  but  text- 
books and  abstracts  of  lectures;  not  only  because 
other  books  were  forbidden  in  the  College,  but  from 
lack  of  interest  in  literature. 

The  first  Russian  books  with  which  I  made 
acquaintance  I  got  from  Dostoevsky;  they  were  a 
translation  of  Hoffmann's  "  Kater  Murr  "  and  "  The 
Confessions  of  an  English  Opium-Eater,"  by  Maturin 
[sic] ;  the  latter  was  especially  prized  by  Dostoevsky. 
His  literary  influence  was  not  confined  to  me  alone; 
three  of  my  colleagues  came  equally  under  his  spell — 
Beketov,  Vitkovsky,  and  Berechetzky;  in  this  way 
a  little  circle  was  formed,  which  gathered  round 
Dostoevsky  in  every  leisure  hour. 

This  reading,  and  the  interchange  of  ideas  which 
it  brought  about,  took  from  me  all  inclination  for  my 


THE  COPPER  COIN  249 

studies.  Nor  did  Dostoevsky  rank  among  the  best 
pupils.  Before  the  examinations  he  always  made  the 
most  tremendous  efforts,  so  as  to  get  into  a  higher 
class.  But  he  did  not  invariably  succeed;  in  one 
examination  he  failed  entirely,  and  was  unpromoted. 
This  failure  worried  him  so  much  that  he  fell  ill,  and 
had  to  go  to  hospital  for  a  while. 

In  1844  or  '45  I  met  him  quite  by  chance  in  the 
street;  he  had  then  completed  his  studies,  and  had 
exchanged  military  uniform  for  civilian  dress.  I 
clasped  him  in  my  arms  with  cries  of  joy.  Even 
Dostoevsky  seemed  -glad,  but  behaved  with  some 
reticence.  He  never  was,  indeed,  given  to  public 
displays  of  emotion.  My  delight  at  this  unexpected 
meeting  was  so  great  and  genuine  that  it  never  even 
occurred  to  me  to  feel  hurt  by  his  cool  behaviour. 
I  told  him  about  all  my  acquaintances  in  literary 
circles,  about  my  own  literary  attempts,  and  at  once 
invited  him  to  come  to  my  abode  and  hear  my  latest 
production.  He  willingly  agreed. 

When  I  had  read  him  my  story  he  seemed  pleased 
with  it,  but  gave  me  no  very  extravagant  praise;  with 
one  passage  he  found  fault.  This  was  how  it  ran: 
"  When  the  organ  stopped,  an  official  threw  a  copper 
coin  out  of  his  window,  which  fell  at  the  organ- 
grinder's  feet."  "  No,  that's  not  right,"  said  Dos- 
toevsky, "  it  is  much  too  dull:  '  The  copper  coin  fell 
at  the  organ-grinder's  feet.'  You  should  say,  '  The 
copper  coin  fell  clinking  and  hopping  at  the  man's 
feet  '  "  .  .  .  That  remark  struck  me  as  a  revelation. 

As  time  went  on,  I  saw  more  and  more  of  Dos- 
toevsky. At  last  we  decided  to  set  up  house  together. 
My  mother  sent  me  fifty  roubles  a  month,  Dostoevsky 
got  nearly  as  much  from  his  relatives  in  Moscow. 
As  things  were  then,  a  hundred  roubles  was  quite 
enough  for  two  young  fellows ;  but  we  did  not  under- 


250  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

stand  housekeeping,  and  the  money  usually  lasted  us 
only  for  the  first  fortnight ;  for  the  rest  of  the  month 
we  fared  on  rolls  and  coffee.  The  house  we  lived  in 
was  at  the  corner  of  Vladimir  and  Graf  en  Streets; 
it  consisted  of  a  kitchen  and  two  rooms,  whose  three 
windows  looked  out  on  Graf  en  Street.  We  had  no 
servants;  we  made  our  own  tea,  and  bought  all  food 
ourselves. 

When  we  set  up  house,  Dostoevsky  was  working 
at  the  translation  of  Balzac's  "  Eugenie  Grandet." 
Balzac  was  our  favourite  writer;  we  both  considered 
him  by  far  the  most  important  of  the  French  authors. 
Dostoevsky  succeeded,  I  know  not  how,  in  publishing 
his  translation  in  the  Book-Lovers'  Library;  I  can 
still  recollect  how  vexed  Dostoevsky  was  when  that 
number  of  the  magazine  reached  him — the  editor  had 
shortened  the  novel  by  a  third.  But  that  was  what 
Senkovsky,  then  the  editor  of  the  Library,  always 
did  with  his  collaborators'  works,  and  the  authors 
were  so  glad  to  see  themselves  in  print  that  they 
never  protested. 

My  enthusiasm  for  Dostoevsky  was  the  reason  why 
Bielinsky,  to  whom  Nekrassov  introduced  me,  made 
quite  a  different  impression  upon  me  from  what 
I  had  expected.  Properly  tutored  by  Nekrassov,  I 
regarded  the  impending  visit  to  Bielinsky  as  a  great 
joy;  long  beforehand  I  rehearsed  the  words  in  which 
I  should  describe  to  him  my  admiration  for  Balzac. 
But  scarcely  had  I  mentioned  that  my  housemate 
Dostoevsky  (whose  name  was  still  unknown  to 
Bielinsky)  had  translated  "  Eugenie  Grandet  "  than 
Bielinsky  began  to  abuse  our  divinity  most  terribly: 
he  called  him  a  writer  for  the  bourgeois,  and  said  that 
there  was  not  a  page  of  "  Eugenie  Grandet  "  without 
some  error  in  taste.  I  was  so  nonplussed  that  I 
forgot  every  word  of  the  beautifully  rehearsed  speech. 


U.^f  /  ?    {   ^    ^  1     5 

M^ul^/v  KN1  %  :  K 

'      v 


'*•?'"  "   ^  i  ^r 

„ ,. .  -  ^      \^    *t    i x^ 

/(.•''  :  .  ...     _.V-^«-- „  >.^.J  I     T  *j^» 

/  .  *\     ^ 

^'7-^-'          '  '  -    :  "H  U\"^     ,    . 

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••  «  ul4* 

f  *,  **,  tyt.  ...*../«»,/»f  «<Sf    £&.*****'     *.,VL ^        .< ^v\      .A    -VM^ 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  HANDWRITING  IN  1838. 
(LETTER  TO  HIS  RKOTHKU  MICHAEL,  AUGUST  ».) 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  HANDWRITING        251 

Probably  I  impressed  him  as  a  stupid  boy  who  could 
not  say  a  word  in  defence  of  his  own  opinion. 

At  that  time  Dostoevsky  would  spend  whole  days, 
and  sometimes  nights,  at  his  desk.  He  never  said  a 
word  about  what  he  was  working  at;  he  answered 
my  questions  unwillingly  and  laconically,  and  I  soon 
ceased  to  interrogate  him;  I  merely  saw  countless 
sheets  covered  with  Dostoevsky's  peculiar  writing — 
every  letter  as  if  drawn.  I  have  seen  no  writing  like 
it,  except  that  of  Dumas  pere.  When  Dostoevsky 
was  not  writing,  he  would  sit  crouched  over  a  book. 
For  a  while  he  raved  about  the  novels  of  Soulie, 
particularly  the  "  Memoires  des  Demons."  As  a  con- 
sequence of  his  hard  work  and  the  sedentary  life  he 
led,  his  health  was  getting  worse  and  worse;  those 
troubles  which  had  occasionally  shown  themselves 
even  in  his  boyhood  now  became  increasingly  fre- 
quent. Sometimes  he  would  even  have  a  fit  on  one 
of  our  few  walks  together.  Once  we  chanced  to  come 
on  a  funeral.  Dostoevsky  insisted  on  turning  back 
at  once;  but  he  had  scarcely  gone  a  few  steps  when 
he  had  such  a  violent  fit  that  I  was  obliged  to  carry 
him,  with  the  help  of  some  passers-by,  into  the  nearest 
shop;  it  was  with  great  difficulty  that  we  restored 
him  to  consciousness.  Such  attacks  were  usually 
followed  by  a  state  of  great  depression,  which  lasted 
two  or  three  days. 

One  morning  Dostoevsky  called  me  into  his  room; 
he  was  sitting  on  the  divan  which  served  as  bed  also, 
and  before  him  on  the  little  writing-table  lay  a  thickish 
manuscript-book,  large  size,  with  speckled  edges. 

"Sit  down  here  a  while,  Grigorovitch;  I  only 
wrote  it  out  fair  yesterday  and  I  want  to  read  it  to 
you;  but  don't  interrupt  me,"  said  he,  with  unusual 
vivacity. 

The  work  which  he  then  read  to  me  at  one  breath, 


252     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

with  no  pauses  at  all,  soon  afterwards  appeared  in 
print  under  the  title  of  "  Poor  Folk." 

I  always  had  a  very  high  opinion  of  Dostoevsky; 
his  wide  reading,  his  knowledge  of  literature,  his 
opinions,  and  the  deep  seriousness  of  his  character,  all 
extraordinarily  impressed  me;  I  often  asked  myself 
how  it  was  that,  while  I  had  already  written  and 
published  a  good  deal,  and  so  could  account  myself  a 
literary  man,  Dostoevsky  did  not  yet  share  this  dis- 
tinction. But  with  the  first  pages  of  "  Poor  Folk  "  it 
was  borne  in  on  me  that  this  work  was  incomparably 
greater  than  anything  that  I  had  so  far  written ;  that 
conviction  increased  as  he  read  on.  I  was  quite  en- 
chanted, and  several  times  longed  to  clutch  and  hug 
him;  only  that  objection  of  his  to  effusions  of  feeling, 
which  I  knew  so  well,  restrained  me — but  I  could  not 
possibly  sit  there  in  silence,  and  interrupted  him 
every  moment  with  exclamations  of  delight. 

The  consequences  of  that  reading  are  well-known. 
Dostoevsky  has  himself  related  in  his  Diary  how  I 
tore  the  manuscript  from  him  by  force,  and  took  it  to 
Nekrassov  forthwith.  He  has  indeed  out  of  modesty 
said  nothing  of  the  reading  to  Nekrassov.  I  myself 
read  the  work  aloud.  At  the  last  scene,  when  old 
Dyevuchkin  takes  leave  of  Varenyka,  I  could  no 
longer  control  myself,  and  broke  into  sobs.  I  saw 
that  Nekrassov  also  was  weeping.  I  then  pointed  out 
to  him  that  a  good  deed  should  never  be  put  off,  and 
that,  in  spite  of  the  late  hour,  he  should  instantly 
betake  himself  to  Dostoevsky,  to  tell  him  of  his 
success  and  talk  over  the  details  of  the  novel's 
appearance  in  the  magazine. 

Nekrassov  too  was  very  much  excited;  he  agreed, 
and  we  really  did  go  straight  off  to  Dostoevsky. 

I  must  confess  that  I  had  acted  rashly.  For  I 
knew  the  character  of  my  housemate,  his  morbid 


THE  MIDNIGHT  VISIT  253 

sensibility  and  reserve,  his  shyness — and  I  ought  to 
have  told  him  all  quite  quietly  next  morning,  instead 
of  waking  him  in  the  middle  of  the  night,  and, 
moreover,  bringing  a  strange  man  to  visit  him. 

Dostoevsky  himself  opened  the  door  to  our  knock- 
ing; when  he  saw  me  with  a  stranger,  he  was  fright- 
fully embarrassed,  turned  pale,  and  for  a  long  time 
could  make  no  response  to  Nekrassov's  eulogiums. 
When  our  guest  had  gone,  I  expected  that  Dostoevsky 
would  overwhelm  me  with  reproaches.  But  that  did 
not  happen;  he  merely  shut  himself  up  in  his  room, 
and  for  a  long  time  I  heard  him  walking  excitedly  up 
and  down. 

After  Dostoevsky  had  in  this  way  come  to  know 
Nekrassov,  and  through  him  Bielinsky  too  (for  the 
latter,  also,  soon  read  "  Poor  Folk  "  in  manuscript), 
he  was  suddenly  as  if  metamorphosed.  During  the 
printing  of  the  novel  he  was  continually  in  a  state  of 
the  most  excessive  nervous  excitement.  His  reserve 
went  so  far  that  he  never  told  me  a  word  of  what 
further  ensued  between  him  and  Nekrassov.  I  heard 
indirectly  that  he  exacted  from  Nekrassov  that  his 
novel  should  be  set  up  in  quite  peculiar  type,  and 
that  every  page  should  have  a  sort  of  framing.  I  was 
not  present  at  the  negotiations,  and  cannot  therefore 
say  whether  these  rumours  were  founded  on  truth. 

One  thing  I  can  decidedly  say:  the  success  of 
"  Poor  Folk,"  and  still  more  the  extravagant  eulogiums 
of  Bielinsky,  had  a  bad  influence  on  Dostoevsky,  who 
till  then  had  lived  wholly  shut  in  with  himself  and 
had  associated  only  with  people  who  took  no  interest 
at  all  in  literature.  How  could  such  a  man  as  he 
have  remained  in  his  normal  condition  of  mind,  when 
at  his  very  first  entrance  to  the  literary  career,  an 
authority  like  Bielinsky  prostrated  himself  before 
him,  and  loudly  proclaimed  that  a  new  star  had 


254  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

arisen  in  Russian  literature  ?  Soon  after  "  Poor  Folk," 
Dostoevsky  wrote  his  novel  "  Mr.  Prochartchin," 
which  likewise  was  read  aloud  to  Nekrassov;  I  was 
invited  to  the  reading.  Bielinsky  sat  opposite  the 
author,  listened  greedily  to  every  word,  and  now  and 
then  expressed  his  delight — saying  over  and  over 
again  that  nobody  but  Dostoevsky  was  capable  of 
such  psychological  subtleties. 

But  perhaps  Bielinsky 's  enthusiasm  had  less  effect 
on  him  than  the  subsequent  complete  revulsion  in 
Bielinsky 's  appreciation  and  that  of  his  circle. 

About  that  time  Bielinsky  said  in  a  letter  to 
Annenkov:  "  Dostoevsky 's  '  Mistress  of  the  Inn  '  is 
terrible  stuff  !  He  has  attempted  a  combination  of 
Marlinsky1  and  Hoffmann,  with  a  dash  of  Gogol. 
He  has  written  other  novels  besides,  but  every  new 
work  of  his  is  a  new  calamity.  In  the  provinces  they 
can't  stand  him  at  all,  and  in  Petersburg  even  '  Poor 
Folk  '  is  abused ;  I  tremble  at  the  thought  that  1 
shall  have  to  read  this  novel  once  more.  We've  been 
well  taken  in  by  our  '  gifted  '  Dostoevsky  !" 

So  Bielinsky  wrote,  the  most  honest  man  in  the 
world,  and  he  meant  every  word  of  it  most  honestly 
and  thoroughly.  Bielinsky  never  flinched  from  de- 
claring his  opinion  of  Dostoevsky,  and  all  his  circle 
echoed  him. 

The  unexpected  transition  from  idolization  of  the 
author  of  "  Poor  Folk  "  to  complete  denial  of  his 
literary  talent  might  well  have  crushed  even  a  less 
sensitive  and  ambitious  writer  than  Dostoevsky. 
Thenceforth  he  avoided  all  those  who  were  connected 
with  Bielinsky's  circle,  and  became  more  reserved 
and  irritable  than  ever.  At  a  meeting  with  Turgenev, 
who  likewise  belonged  to  Bielinsky's  set,  Dostoevsky 

1  Alexander  Bestuchev  (pseudonym,  Marlinsky),  1795- 
1837,  a  novelist  very  popular  at  that  period. 


THE  BREACH  WITH  BIELINSKY       255 

unhappily  lost  control  of  himself,  and  all  the  anger 
which  had  gathered  in  him  flamed  forth ;  he  said  that 
he  was  not  afraid  of  any  one  of  them,  and  would 
tread  them  all  into  the  mud  in  time.  I  forget  what 
was  the  immediate  cause  of  the  outbreak;  I  think 
-they  were  speaking  of  Gogol,  among  others.  But  in 
any  case  I  am  convinced  that  Dostoevsky  was  to 
blame.  Turgenev  was  never  given  to  quarrelling; 
he  might  rather  be  reproached  with  too  great  pliancy 
and  gentleness  of  character. 

After  the  scene  with  Turgenev  it  came  to  an  open 
breach  between  Dostoevsky  and  the  Bielinsky  set. 
Now  they  overwhelmed  him  with  derision  and  biting 
epigrams,  and  he  was  accused  of  monstrous  conceit; 
they  said  too  that  he  was  jealous  of  Gogol,  whom  in 
justice  he  should  adore,  since  on  every  page  of  "  Poor 
Folk  "  the  influence  of  Gogol  was  unmistakable. 

This  last  reproach,  if  it  is  a  reproach  for  a  novice, 
was  not  quite  unjustified.  Old  Dyevuchkin  in  "  Poor 
Folk  "  does  undoubtedly  recall  Poprischtschin  the 
functionary,  in  the  "  Memoirs  of  a  Madman  "  of 
Gogol;  in  the  scene  where  Dyevuchkin  loses  a 
button  in  the  presence  of  his  superiors  and,  much 
embarrassed,  tries  to  pick  it  up,  one  cannot  but 
think  of  that  scene  of  Gogol's  where  Poprischtschin 
tries  to  pick  up  the  handkerchief  which  his  superior's 
daughter  has  dropped,  and  comes  to  grief  on  the 
parquet  floor.  Not  only  the  constant  use  of  the  same 
word  over  and  over  again,  but  the  whole  composition, 
betrays  Gogol's  influence. 

Once,  I  forget  why,  he  and  I  fell  out.  The  conse- 
quence was  that  we  decided  to  give  up  living  together. 
But  we  parted  on  good  terms.  Later  I  often  met 
him  with  acquaintances,  and  we  treated  one  another 
as  old  friends. 


FROM  THE  REMINISCENCES  OF 
A.  P.  MILYUKOV 

1848—1849 

I  MADE  Dostoevsky's  acquaintance  in  the  winter  of 
1848.  That  was  a  momentous  period  for  enthusiastic 
and  cultured  youth.  After  the  February  Revolution 
in  Paris,  the  reforms  of  Pius  IX.,  the  risings  in 
Milan,  Venice,  and  Naples,  the  victory  of  liberal 
ideas  in  Germany  and  the  revolutions  of  Berlin  and 
Vienna,  everyone  believed  in  the  renaissance  of  the 
whole  European  world.  The  rotted  pillars  of  reaction 
were  crumbling  one  after  the  other,  and  all  over 
Europe  new  life  seemed  to  be  in  bud.  Yet  in  Russia, 
at  that  time,  prevailed  the  most  crushing  reaction: 
Science,  no  less  than  the  Press,  could  hardly  breathe 
beneath  the  heavy  yoke  of  the  administration,  and 
every  sign  of  mental  vitality  was  stifled.  From 
abroad,  a  quantity  of  liberal  writings,  partly  scientific, 
partly  literary,  were  smuggled  into  the  country.  In 
the  French  and  German  papers,  people,  despite  the 
Censorship,  were  reading  stirring  articles;  but  among 
ourselves  all  scientific  and  literary  activity  was 
rendered  well-nigh  impossible,  and  the  Censorship 
tore  each  new  book  to  pieces.  Naturally  all  this  had 
a  highly  exciting  effect  upon  the  younger  generation, 
who  on  the  one  hand  were,  through  these  foreign 
books  and  journals,  making  acquaintance  not  only 
with  Liberal  ideas,  but  with  the  most  extreme  Socialist 
doctrine;  and  on  the  other,  were  finding  that  the 
256 


THE  DOUROV  GROUP  257 

most  harmless  notions  of  Liberalism  were  relentle  'sly 
persecuted  in  their  own  country — they  would  read 
the  flaming  speeches  made  in  the  French  Chamber 
and  at  Frankfort,  and  at  the  same  time  see  how, 
among  ourselves,  someone  was  punished  like  a  criminal 
every  day  for  an  incautious  word  or  a  "  forbidden  " 
book.  Almost  every  foreign  post  brought  news  of 
fresh  rights  gained  for  themselves  by  the  people, 
while  in  Russian  society  one  heard  only  of  fresh 
"  special  decrees  "  and  persecutions.  All  who  re- 
member that  time  will  know  the  effect  this  had  upon 
the  younger  generation. 

There  now  began  to  form,  in  Petersburg,  little 
groups  of  young  men,  who  for  the  most  part  had  but 
recently  left  the  High  Schools.  These  assembled 
solely  to  discuss  the  latest  news  and  rumours,  and 
to  express  opinions  freely.  In  these  groups,  new 
acquaintances  were  made,  and  old  ones  renewed. 

I  happened  in  this  way  to  be  present  at  an  assembly 
which  took  place  at  the  abode  of  the  young  writer 
A.  N.  Plechtcheyev.  I  there  entered  into  relations 
with  a  set  of  men  whose  memories  I  shall  ever  cherish. 
Among  others  were  present:  Porfiry  Lamansky, 
Sergey  Dourov,  Nikolay  Monbelli  and  Alexander 
Palm,  both  of  whom  were  officers  of  the  Guards — 
and  the  brothers  Michael  and  Fyodor  Dostoevsky. 
All  these  young  men  were  extraordinarily  sympathetic 
to  me.  I  became  particularly  intimate  with  the  two 
Dostoevskys  and  Monbelli.  The  latter  then  lived  in 
barracks,  and  we  used  to  assemble  at  his  quarters  too. 
I  made  further  acquaintances  among  his  circle,  and 
learnt  that  large  assemblies  took  place  at  the  abode 
of  one  M.  V.  Butachevitch-Petrachevsky,  whereat 
speeches  on  political  and  social  questions  were  made. 
Someone  offered  to  take  me  to  Petrachevsky ;  but 
I  declined,  not  from  timidity  or  indifference,  but 


because  Petrachevsky,  whose  acquaintance  I  had 
recently  made,  had  not  particularly  attracted  me ;  he 
held  quite  too  paradoxical  opinions,  and  showed  a 
certain  aversion  for  all  things  Russian. 

On  the  contrary  I  very  willingly  accepted  an 
invitation  to  enter  the  little  group  which  gathered 
about  Dourov ;  he  attracted  many  who  belonged  also 
to  Petrachevsky's  set,  but  embraced  more  moderate 
opinions.  Dourov  lived  at  that  time  with  Palm  in 
Gorochovoya  Street.  At  his  small  abode  there 
assembled  every  Friday  an  organized  circle  of  young 
men,  among  whom  the  military  element  was  repre- 
sented. As  the  host  was  of  modest  means,  and  the 
guests  always  remained  until  three  o'clock  in  the 
morning,  each  had  to  pay  a  monthly  contribution 
towards  the  entertainment,  and  the  hire  of  a  piano. 
I  attended  these  evenings  regularly,  until  in  conse- 
quence of  the  arrest  of  Petrachevsky  and  the  members 
of  his  circle,  they  were  suspended. 

Dostoevsky  also  frequented  these  evenings  at 
Dourov's.  Our  circle  occupied  itself  with  no  revolu- 
tionary plans  of  any  kind,  and  had  no  written  statutes 
at  all;  in  short,  it  could  not  possibly  be  described  as 
a  secret  society.  We  assembled  to  exchange  the  then 
proscribed  books,  and  to  discuss  questions  which  were 
not  permitted  to  be  openly  touched  on.  Most  of  all 
were  we  interested  in  the  question  of  the  emancipa- 
tion of  the  peasants,  and  at  our  meetings  we  always 
spoke  of  the  ways  and  means  to  this  reform.  Some 
thought  that  in  view  of  the  reaction  which  had  been 
brought  about  in  our  country  by  the  European  revo- 
lutions, the  Government  would  never  decide  to  carry 
out  the  emancipation  of  the  peasants,  and  that  it 
would  come  rather  from  below  than  from  above; 
others,  on  the  contrary,  maintained  that  our  people 
had  no  desire  whatever  to  follow  in  the  footsteps  of 


DOSTOEVSKY  ON  SOCIALISM          259 

the  European  revolutionaries,  and  would  patiently 
await  the  decision  of  their  fate  by  the  Government. 
In  this  sense,  Fyodor  Dostoevsky  expressed  himself 
with  particular  emphasis.  When  anybody  in  his 
vicinity  declared  that  the  emancipation  of  the  peasants 
by  the  lawful  path  was  most  doubtful,  he  would 
retort  that  he  believed  in  no  other  pj;h. 

We  talked  too  of  literature,  but  chiefly  with 
reference  to  remarkable  newspaper  articles.  Occa- 
sionally the  older  writers  were  discussed,  and  very 
severe,  one-sided,  and  mistaken  judgments  often 
found  expression.  Once  when  the  subject  happened 
to  be  Dershavin,  and  somebody  declared  that  he  was 
much  more  of  a  turgid  and  servile  ode-maker  and 
courtier  than  the  great  poet  for  which  his  contem- 
poraries and  the  schools  had  taken  him,  Dostoevsky 
sprang  up  as  if  stung  by  a  wasp,  and  cried:  "  What  1 
No  poetic  rapture,  no  true  ardour,  in  Dershavin  ? 
His  not  the  loftiest  poetry  ?" 

And  forthwith  he  declaimed  from  memory  a  poem 
of  Dershavin's  with  such  power,  with  such  ardour, 
that  the  singer  of  Catherine  the  Great  rose  at  once 
in  our  estimation.  Another  time  he  delivered  some 
poems  of  Pushkin  and  Victor  Hugo,  similar  in 
subject,  and  proved  to  us,  with  great  success,  that 
our  poet  was  a  much  more  remarkable  artist  than 
the  Frenchman. 

Dourov's  circle  included  many  fervent  Socialists. 
Intoxicated  by  the  Utopias  of  certain  foreign  theorists, 
they  saw  in  this  doctrine  the  dawn  of  a  new  religion, 
which  one  day  should  remodel  the  world  on  the  basis 
of  a  new  social  order.  Everything  that  appeared  in 
French  on  the  question  was  discussed  hotfoot  by  us. 
We  were  always  talking  about  the  Utopias  of  Robert 
Owen  and  Cabet,  but  still  more,  perhaps,  of  Fourier's 
phalanstery,  and  Proudhon's  theory  of  progressive 


260  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

taxation.  We  all  took  an  equal  interest  in  the 
Socialists,  but  many  refused  to  believe  in  the  possi- 
bility of  practically  realizing  their  teachings.  Among 
these  latter  was,  again,  Dostoevsky.  He  read  all  the 
works  on  Socialism,  it  is  true,  but  remained  wholly 
sceptical.  Though  he  granted  that  all  these  doctrines 
were  founded  on  noble  ideals,  he  nevertheless  regarded 
the  Socialists  as  honest,  but  foolish,  visionaries.  He 
would  say  again  and  again  that  none  of  these  theories 
could  have  any  real  meaning  for  us,  and  that  we  must 
find  our  material  for  the  development  of  Russian 
society  not  in  the  doctrines  of  foreign  Socialists,  but 
in  the  life  and  customs,  sanctified  by  centuries  of  use, 
of  our  own  people,  in  whom  had  long  been  apparent 
far  more  enduring  and  normal  conceptions  than  were 
to  be  found  in  all  the  Utopias  of  Saint-Simon.  To 
him  (he  would  say)  life  in  a  commune  or  in  a  phalan- 
stery would  seem  much  more  terrible  than  in  a 
Siberian  prison.  I  need  not  say  that  our  Socialists 
stuck  to  their  opinions. 

All  new  laws  and  other  actions  of  the  Government 
were  also  discussed  and  severely  criticized  by  us.  In 
view  of  the  arbitrary  rule  which  prevailed  in  our 
country,  and  the  grand  events  which  were  coming  off 
in  Western  Europe,  and  inspiring  us  with  the  hope 
of  a  better  and  freer  mode  of  existence,  our  discontent 
is  wholly  comprehensible.  In  this  respect  Dostoevsky 
showed  the  same  zeal  and  the  same  rebellious  spirit 
as  the  other  members  of  our  circle.  I  cannot  now 
remember  the  actual  content  of  his  speeches,  but  I  do 
recollect  that  he  ever  protested  against  all  measures 
which  in  any  way  implied  the  oppression  of  the 
people,  and  was  especially  infuriated  by  those  abuses 
from  which  the  lowest  ranks  of  society  and  the 
students  equally  suffered.  One  could  always  recog- 
nize the  author  of  "  Poor  Folk  "  in  his  judgments. 


BIELINSKY'S  LETTER  „     261 

One  of  us  proposed  that  discourses  should  be  held  in 
our  assemblies;  each  was  to  write  an  indictment  of 
the  Government,  and  read  it  aloud  to  the  rest; 
Dostoevsky  approved  this  plan,  and  promised  to  do 
something  of  the  kind.  I  forget  whether  he  carried 
out  his  promise.  The  first  discourse,  which  was 
given  by  one  of  the  officers,  dealt  with  an  anecdote 
which  was  at  that  time  common  talk;  Dostoevsky 
found  fault  both  with  the  subject  and  the  form  of 
this  effort.  On  one  of  the  evenings,  I  read  a  passage 
from  Lamennais'  "  Paroles  d'un  Croyant,"  which  I 
had  translated  into  "  Church-Russian."  Dostoevsky 
assured  me  that  the  grave  Biblical  language  of  my 
translation  sounded  much  more  impressive  than  that 
of  the  original.  Later  on,  we  resolved  to  print 
several  copies  of  some  of  our  members'  papers,  and 
circulate  them  widely ;  but  this  plan  was  never  carried 
out,  for  just  then  the  majority  of  our  friends,  and 
those  in  particular  who  had  attended  the  Petrachevsky 
evenings,  were  arrested. 

Shortly  before  the  break-up  of  the  Dourov  circle, 
one  of  its  members  had  been  in  Moscow,  and  had 
brought  from  there  a  transcript  of  the  famous  letter 
which  Bielinsky  had  written  to  Gogol  in  the  course 
of  his  "  Correspondence  with  Friends."  Fyodor 
Dostoevsky  read  this  letter  aloud  both  in  our  circle 
and  in  the  houses  of  several  of  his  friends,  and  also 
gave  it  to  different  people  to  be  transcribed  anew. 
This  was  subsequently  the  main  pretext  for  his  arrest 
and  banishment.  Bielinsky 's  letter,  in  its  paradoxical 
one-sidedness,  would  scarcely  impress  anyone  much 
at  this  time  of  day,  but  it  then  produced  a  remarkable 
effect  upon  all  minds.  Along  with  this  letter,  there 
was  then  circulating  in  our  set  a  humorous  article 
by  Alexander  Herzen  (similarly  brought  from  Moscow), 
in  which  our  two  capitals  were  contrasted  no  less 


262     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

wittily  than  maliciously.  On  the  arrest  of  the 
Petrachevsky  group,  I  know  that  numerous  copies 
of  these  two  works  were  seized.  Besides  our  evenings 
for  discussion  and  reading,  we  had  musical  ones. 
At  our  last  assembly,  a  very  gifted  pianist  played 
Rossini's  overture  to  "  William  Tell." 

On  April  23,  1849,  I  heard,  through  Michael 
Dostoevsky,  of  the  arrest  of  his  brother  Fyodor,  as 
well  as  of  Dourov,  Monbelli,  Filippov,  and  others.  A 
fortnight  later,  I  was  told  one  morning  that  Michael 
Dostoevsky  also  had  been  arrested  the  night  before. 
His  wife  and  children  were  left  wholly  without  means 
of  support,  for  he  had  no  regular  income  whatever,  and 
lived  entirely  by  his  literary  work.  As  I  knew  the 
tranquirand  reserved  character  of  Michael  Dostoevsky, 
I  was  really  but  little  concerned  as  to  his  fate;  it  is 
true  that  he  had  frequented  Petrachevsky,  but  he  had 
been  in  disagreement  with  most  members  of  the  circle. 
So  far  as  I  knew,  there  could  be  little  against  him. 
Therefore  I  hoped  that  he  would  soon  be  set  at  liberty. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  he  was,  at  the  end  of  May;  and 
came  to  me,  early  in  the  morning,  to  look  up  his  son 
Fedya,  whom  I  had  housed.  In  the  evening  of  the 
same  day  he  gave  me  many  particulars  of  his  arrest, 
of  his  stay  in  the  fortress,  and  of  the  questions  which 
had  been  put  to  him  by  the  Committee  of  Investiga- 
tion. From  these  questions  we  could  gather  what 
would  be  the  indictment  against  Fyodor.  Although 
he  was  charged  only  with  some  rash  utterances 
against  high  personages  and  with  the  dissemination 
of  proscribed  writings,  and  the  momentous  Bielinsky 
letter,  these  things  could,  with  ill-will,  be  given  a 
very  serious  turn ;  in  that  case,  a  grievous  fate  awaited 
him.  True,  that  gradually  many  of  those  arrested 
were  being  set  free;  but  it  was  said  that  many  were 
threatened  with  banishment. 


THE  GOOD-BYE  VISIT  263 

The  summer  of  1849  was  a  sad  time  for  all  of  us. 
I  saw  Michael  Dostoevsky  every  week.  The  news 
about  our  incarcerated  friends  was  very  vague;  we 
knew  only  that  they  were  all  in  good  health.  The 
investigating  committee  had  now  ended  its  labours, 
and  we  daily  expected  the  decision.  But  the  autumn 
went  by,  and  not  until  shortly  before  Christmas  was 
the  fate  of  the  prisoners  made  known.  To  our  utter 
amazement  and  horror,  they  were  all  condemned  to 
death.  The  sentence  was  not,  however,  as  all  the 
world  knows,  executed;  capital  punishment  was  at 
the  last  moment  altered  to  other  penalties.  Fyodor 
Dostoevsky  got  four  years'  hard  labour  in  Siberia,  and 
after  completion  of  that  sentence  was  to  be  enrolled  as 
a  private  in  one  of  the  Siberian  regiments  of  the  line. 
All  this  was  done  so  hastily  and  suddenly  that  neither 
I  nor  his  brother  could  be  present  at  the  proclamation 
of  the  sentence  on  Semyonovsky  Square;  we  heard 
of  the  fate  of  our  friends  only  when  all  was  at  an  end, 
and  they  had  been  taken  back  to  the  Petropaulovsky 
fortress  (except  Petrachevsky,  who  was  sent  straight 
from  the  tribunal  to  Siberia) . 

The  prisoners  were  despatched  in  parties  of  two  and 
three  from  the  fortress  to  their  exile.  On  the  third 
day  after  the  sentence,  Michael  Dostoevsky  told  me 
that  his  brother  was  to  depart  that  very  evening,  and 
that  he  wanted  to  go  and  say  good-bye  to  him  at  the 
fortress.  I  too  wished  to  say  good-bye  to  Fyodor 
Dostoevsky.  We  both  went  to  the  fortress,  and 
applied  to  Major  M.,  whom  we  had  known  in  past 
days,  and  through  whose  mediation  we  hoped  to 
obtain  permission  to  see  the  prisoners.  He  told  us 
that  it  was  true  that  Dostoevsky  and  Dourov  were 
to  be  sent  that  very  evening  to  Omsk.  But  per- 
mission to  see  our  friends  could  be  got  only  from  the 
the  Commandant  of  the  fortress. 


264     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

We  were  conducted  into  a  large  room  on  the 
ground-floor  of  the  Commandant's  quarters.  It  was 
already  late,  and  a  lamp  was  burning  in  the  room. 
We  had  to  wait  a  very  long  time,  and  twice  heard 
the  cathedral-bell  of  the  fortress  ring  out  the  hour. 
At  last  the  door  opened,  and  there  entered,  accom- 
panied by  an  officer,  Fyodor  Dostoevsky  and  Dourov. 
We  greeted  them  with  a  mighty  shaking  of  hands. 

Despite  the  long,  solitary  confinement,  neither  had 
changed  at  all  appreciably;  the  one  seemed  quite  as 
grave  and  calm,  the  other  as  cheerful  and  friendly,  as 
before  the  arrest.  Both  already  wore  the  travelling- 
clothes — sheepskins  and  felt  boots — in  which  prisoners 
were  dressed  for  transportation.  The  officer  sat  un- 
obtrusively at  some  distance  from  us  on  a  chair, 
and  did  not  disturb  our  conversation.  Fyodor  talked 
first  of  all  of  his  joy  that  his  brother  had  escaped  a 
similar  fate  to  his ;  then  he  asked  with  warm  interest 
for  Michael's  family,  and  about  all  the  details  of  his 
life.  During  the  meeting,  he  several  times  recurred 
to  that  theme.  Dostoevsky  and  Dourov  spoke  with 
genuine  liking  of  the  Commandant  of  the  fortress,  who 
had  treated  them  most  humanely  and  done  all  that 
was  in  his  power  to  alleviate  their  lot.  Neither  the 
one  nor  the  other  complained  of  the  stern  tribunal,  or 
he  harsh  sentence.  The  life  which  awaited  them  in 
prison  did  not  alarm  them;  they  could  not  then 
foresee  the  effect  which  the  punishment  was  to  have 
upon  their  health. 

When  the  Dostoevsky  brothers  took  leave  of  one 
another,  it  was  clear  to  me  that  not  he  who  had  to 
go  to  Siberia,  but  he  who  remained  in  Petersburg, 
suffered  the  more.  The  elder  brother  wept,  his  lips 
trembled,  while  Fyodor  seemed  calm  and  even 
consoled  him. 

"Don't  do  that,  brother,"  he  said;  "why,  you 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  COURAGE  265 

know  me.  Come,  you  are  not  seeing  me  to  my 
grave;  even  in  prison  there  dwell  not  beasts  but 
men,  and  many  of  them  are  possibly  better  and 
worthier  than  I  am.  .  .  .  We  shall  see  one  another 
again,  I  am  sure  of  it;  I  confidently  hope  for  that, 
I  have  no  doubt  at  all  that  we  shall  meet  again.  .  .  . 
Write  to  me  in  Siberia,  send  me  books;  I'll  send 
word  to  you  from  there  what  books  I  need;  I  shall 
surely  be  allowed  to  read  there.  .  .  .  And  when 
once  I  have  the  prison  behind  me,  I'll  write  regularly. 
During  these  months  I  have  lived  through  much  in 
my  soul ;  and  think  of  all  I  shall  see  and  live  through 
in  the  future  !  I  shall  truly  have  plenty  of  material 
for  writing.  ..." 

He  gave  one  the  impression  of  regarding  the  im- 
pending punishment  as  a  pleasure-trip  abroad,  in  the 
course  of  which  he  should  see  beautiful  scenery  and 
artistic  treasures,  and  make  new  acquaintances  in 
perfect  freedom.  He  never  seemed  to  realize  that 
he  was  to  spend  four  years  in  the  "  House  of  the 
Dead,"  in  chains,  in  the  company  of  criminals; 
perhaps  he  was  full  of  the  thought  that  he  would  find 
in  the  most  fallen  criminal  those  human  traits,  those 
sparks  of  divine  fire  that,  though  heaped  over  with 
ashes,  still  glimmer,  still  are  unextinguished — those 
sparks  which,  according  to  his  conviction,  burn  even 
in  the  most  outcast  of  mankind,  in  the  most  hardened 
of  criminals. 

This  final  .  meeting  lasted  over  half-an-hour ; 
although  we  spoke  of  many  things,  the  time  seemed 
short.  The  melancholy  bell  was  sounding  again 
when  the  Major  entered,  and  said  the  interview  was 
at  an  end.  For  the  last  time  we  embraced.  I  did 
not  then  imagine  that  I  should  never  see  Dourov 
again,  and  Fyodor  Dostoevsky  only  after  eight  years. 


FROM  THE  MEMORANDA  OF  P.  K. 

MARTYANOV,1  AT  THE  HOUSE 

OF  THE  DEAD 

1850—1854 

THE  hardest  office  which  was  assigned  to  us  who  had 
been  transferred  on  punishment  was  keeping  guard  in 
the  prison.  It  was  the  same  one  that  Dostoevsky 
has  described  in  his  "  House  of  the  Dead."  Of  those 
who  had  been  implicated  in  the  Petrachevsky  affair, 
there  were  then  in  the  prison  Fyodor  Michailo- 
vitch  Dostoevsky  and  Sergey  Fyodorovitch  Dourov. 
Whether  they  had  formerly  been  much  known  in 
Petersburg,  we  are  not  aware;  but  during  their  stay 
in  the  prison  their  Petersburg  friends  took  the 
greatest  interest  in  them,  and  did  everything  possible 
to  alleviate  their  lot. 

The  two  young  men,  once  so  elegant,  made  a  sad 
spectacle  in  the  prison.  They  wore  the  usual  convict- 
dress  :  in  the  summer,  vests  of  striped  grey  and  black 
stuff  with  yellow  badges  on  the  back,  and  white  caps 
with  no  brims ;  in  the  winter,  short  sheepskins,  caps 
with  ear-flaps,  and  mittens.  On  their  arms  and  legs 
were  chains  which  clanked  at  every  movement;  so 
that  they  were  in  no  way  externally  distinguished 
from  the  other  prisoners.  Only  one  thing  marked 

1  Martyanov's  memoranda  are  based  on  verbal  information 
from  several  naval  cadets  who,  on  account  of  participation 
in  the  movement  of  1849,  were  degraded,  and  transferred  to 
the  line  regiment  at  Omsk  as  privates. 
266 


DOSTOEVSKY  IN  PRISON  267 

them  out  from  the  mass:  the  ineffaceable  signs  of 
good  education  and  training.  Dostoevsky  looked 
liked  a  strong,  somewhat  thickset,  well-disciplined 
working-man.  His  hard  fate  had,  as  it  were,  turned 
him  to  stone.  He  seemed  dull,  awkward,  and  was 
always  taciturn.  On  his  pale,  worn,  ashen  face, 
which  was  freckled  with  dark-red  spots,  one  never 
saw  a  smile;  he  opened  his  lips  only  to  utter  curt, 
disconnected  remarks  about  his  work.  He  always 
wore  his  cap  dragged  down  on  his  forehead  to  his 
eyebrows ;  his  glance  was  sullen,  unpropitiating,  fierce, 
and  mostly  directed  on  the  ground.  The  prisoners 
did  not  like  him,  though  they  recognized  his  moral 
force;  they  looked  askance  at  him,  but  with  no 
malice,  and  would  tacitly  avoid  him.  He  perceived 
this  himself,  and  so  kept  aloof  from  all ;  only  on  very 
rare  occasions,  when  he  was  beyond  himself  with 
misery,  would  he  draw  any  of  the  prisoners  into  con- 
versation. Dourov,  on  the  contrary,  looked  like  a 
fine  gentleman  even  in  prison  clothes.  He  was  well 
grown,  held  his  head  proudly  aloft,  his  large  black 
eyes  looked  friendly  despite  their  short-sightedness, 
and  he  smiled  on  all  and  sundry.  He  wore  his  cap 
pushed  back  on  his  neck,  and  even  in  the  worst  hours 
preserved  an  unalterably  cheerful  aspect.  He  treated 
each  individual  prisoner  amiably  and  cordially,  and 
all  of  them  liked  him.  But  he  suffered  much,  and 
was  frightfully  run  down — so  much  so  that  sometimes 
he  could  not  stir  a  foot.  And  yet  he  remained  good- 
tempered,  and  tried  to  forget  his  physical  pain  in 
laughter  and  joking. 

From  the  prison-guard  was  then  demanded  much 
care,  energy,  and  vigilance.  The  guard  had  to  escort 
the  prisoners  to  the  working-places,  and  also  to  super- 
vise them  in  the  prison.  The  captain  of  the  guard 
had  to  report  every  morning  on  the  condition  of  the 


268     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

prisoners,  to  look  after  the  cleanliness  and  discipline 
in  the  prison  and  the  barrack-rooms,  to  make  surprise- 
inspections,  and  prevent  the  smuggling-in  of  schnaps, 
tobacco,  playing-cards,  and  other  forbidden  articles; 
his  duties,  therefore,  were  arduous  and  responsible. 

The  naval  cadets  of  that  period  were  nevertheless 
ready  to  assume  these  duties  in  place  of  the  officers, 
for  in  that  way  they  obtained  an  opportunity  of 
coming  continually  under  the  notice  of  their  superiors, 
and  at  the  same  time  of  alleviating,  so  far  as  was 
feasible,  the  hard  lot  of  the  prisoners.  Most  of  these 
worked  outside  the  prison  at  the  building  of  the 
fortress;  but  some  were  daily  kept  in  to  do  the 
house-work.  These  latter  came  under  the  imme- 
diate surveillance  of  the  guard,  and  would  remain, 
unless  they  were  sent  to  do  work  of  some  kind,  either 
in  the  orderly-room  or  in  their  cells.  In  this  way  the 
naval  cadets  could  always  keep  back  any  particular 
prisoner  if  they  so  desired.  For  instance,  Dostoevsky 
and  Dourov  were  often  kept  back  for  "  house-work  "; 
the  captains  of  the  guard  would  then  send  for  them 
to  the  orderly-room,  where  they  would  tell  them  the 
news,  and  give  them  any  presents,  books,  or  letters 
that  might  have  come  for  them.  We  let  them  come 
into  the  orderly-room  only  at  such  times  as  we  were 
sure  that  no  superior  officer  was  likely  to  appear; 
but,  in  case  of  accident,  we  always  kept  a  soldier  in 
readiness  to  take  them  back  to  work.  General 
Borislavsky,  who  superintended  the  labours,  and  the 
Commandant  of  the  fortress,  General  de  Grave,  were 
made  aware  of  this  proceeding  by  the  physician, 
Doctor  Troizky. 

According  to  the  cadets'  reports,  the  character  of 
Dostoevsky  was  not  attractive;  he  always  looked 
like  a  wolf  in  a  trap,  and  avoided  all  the  prisoners; 
even  the  humane  treatment  shown  by  his  superiors, 


HIS  UNSOCIABILITY  269 

and  their  efforts  to  be  useful  to  him  and  alleviate  his 
lot,  he  took  as  an  injury.  He  always  looked  gloomy, 
and  amid  the  noise  and  animation  of  the  prison  held 
himself  aloof  from  all;  only  of  necessity  did  he  ever 
speak  a  word.  When  the  cadets  summoned  him  to 
the  orderly-room,  he  would  behave  with  much  reserve; 
he  paid  no  heed  to  their  suggestion  that  he  should 
sit  down  and  rest,  answered  most  unwillingly  the 
questions  put  to  him,  and  almost  never  permitted  him- 
self any  frankness  of  speech.  Every  expression  of 
sympathy  he  met  with  mistrust,  as  if  he  suspected  in 
it  some  secret  purpose.  Even  the  books  that  were 
offered  him  he  hardly  ever  accepted;  only  in  two 
cases  (they  were  "  David  Copperfield  "  and  the  "  Pick- 
wick Papers  ")  did  he  show  any  interest  in  the  books, 
or  take  them  to  hospital  with  him.  Doctor  Troizky 
explained  Dostoevsky's  unsociability  by  the  morbid 
state  of  his  whole  organism,  which,  as  everyone 
knows,  was  shattered  by  his  nervous  troubles  and 
epileptic  fits,  but  outwardly  he  looked  healthy,  active, 
and  vigorous ;  he  shared,  too,  in  all  the  labours  of  the 
other  convicts.  The  cadet  from  whom  I  obtained 
this  description  accounted  for  Dostoevsky's  un- 
sociability by  his  fear  that  any  relations  with  others, 
and  the  solicitude  shown  for  him,  might  come  to  the 
knowledge  of  the  authorities  and  injure  him  with 
them.  Dourov,  on  the  contrary,  was  universally 
liked.  Despite  his  sickly,  frail  appearance,  he  took 
an  interest  in  everybody,  gladly  entered  into  relation- 
ship with  people  outside  the  prison,  and  was  cordially 
grateful  for  any  alleviation  or  aid  that  was  offered 
him.  He  talked,  and  even  argued,  freely  upon  all 
sorts  of  subjects,  and  often  succeeded  in  carrying  his 
audience  with  him.  His  open,  cordial,  and  energetic 
character  was  apparent  to  us  all,  and  so  he  was  much 
better  liked  than  Dostoevsky  was. 


270     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

The  cadets  observed  with  amazement  that  Dos- 
toevsky  and  Dourov  hated  one  another  with  all  the 
force  of  their  beings;  they  were  never  seen  together, 
and  during  their  whole  time  in  the  prison  at  Omsk 
they  never  exchanged  a  word  with  one  another. 
When  they  both  happened  to  be  in  the  orderly-room 
at  the  same  time,  they  would  sit  in  opposite  corners 
and  answer  any  questions  they  were  asked  with  no 
more  than  a  Yes  or  No.  This  was  noticed,  and  they 
were  thenceforth  summoned  separately. 

When  Dourov  was  interrogated  as  to  this  odd 
behaviour,  he  answered  that  neither  would  condescend 
to  address  the  other,  because  prison-life  had  made 
enemies  of  them.  And  Dostoevsky,  though  he  speaks 
in  his  "  House  of  the  Dead  "  of  many  interesting  con- 
victs who  were  in  the  .prison  during  his  time,  never 
once  mentions  Dourov,  either  by  his  full  name  or  by 
initials.  And  when  he  is  obliged  to  refer  to  him,  he 
does  it  thus:  "  We,  that  is,  I  and  the  other  prisoner 
of  noble  birth  who  came  to  the  prison  at  the  same 
time  as  I  did.  ..."  Or  thus :  "  I  observed  with  terror 
one  of  my  prison-mates  (of  noble  birth)  who  was 
visibly  going  out  like  a  candle.  When  he  came  to 
the  prison,  he  was  young,  handsome,  and  attractive; 
he  left  it  a  broken,  grey-haired,  lame,  and  asthmatic 
creature."  The  head  -  physician,  Doctor  Troizky, 
showed  great  interest  in  the  political  prisoners.  He 
often  sent  them  word  by  the  cadets  that  they  might 
(one  or  the  other  of  them)  come  to  him  in  hospital 
for  cure;  and  they  frequently  did  go  to  hospital  for 
several  weeks,  and  there  got  good  food,  tea,  wine,  and 
other  such  things,  either  from  the  hospital  kitchen  or 
the  doctor's  own.  According  to  what  Doctor  Troizky 
told  one  of  the  cadets,  Dostoevsky  began  his  "  House 
of  the  Dead  "  in  hospital,  with  the  doctor's  sanction; 
for  the  prisoners  were  not  allowed  writing  materials 


MAJOR  KRIVZOV  271 

without  express  permission;  the  first  chapters  of  that 
work  were  long  in  the  keeping  of  one  of  the  hospital 
orderlies.  General  Borislavsky  also  showed  favour 
to  those  two,  through  the  medium  of  his  adjutant, 
Lieutenant  Ivanov.  By  his  permission  they  were  put 
only  to  the  easier  labours,  except  when  they  them- 
selves desired  to  share  the  work  of  the  other  convicts. 
Among  these  easier  labours  were  included  painting- 
work,  the  turning  of  wheels,  the  burning  of  alabaster, 
shovelling  of  snow,  etc.  Dostoevsky  even  got  per- 
mission to  do  secretarial  work  in  the  office  of  the 
Engineering  Department;  but  when  Colonel  Marten, 
in  a  report  to  the  officer  commanding  the  corps, 
expressed  a  doubt  whether  political  offenders  con- 
demned to  hard  labour  should  be  employed  in  such  a 
manner,  this  arrangement  came  to  an  end. 

Once  when  Dostoevsky  had  remained  behind  in  the 
prison  for  "  house-work,"  there  suddenly  came  into 
his  cell  Major  Krivzov  (whom  Dostoevsky  later 
described  as  a  "  brute  in  human  form  "),  to  find  him 
lying  on  his  plank-bed. 

"  What  is  the  meaning  of  this  ?  Why  is  he  not  at 
his  labour  ?"  cried  the  Major. 

"  He  is  ill,  sir,"  answered  a  cadet,  who  happened  to 
have  accompanied  the  Major  in  his  capacity  as  officer 
of  the  guard.  "  He  has  just  had  an  epileptic  fit." 

"  Nonsense  !  I  am  aware  that  you  indulge  him  too 
much.  Out  to  the  guard-room  with  him  this  instant ; 
bring  the  rods  !" 

While  he  was  being  dragged  from  his  plank  and 
pushed  along  to  the  guard-room,  the  cadet  despatched 
an  exempt  to  the  Commandant  with  a  report  of  the 
occurrence.  General  de  Grave  came  at  once  to  the 
guard-room  and  stopped  the  whipping;  while  to 
Major  Krivzov  he  administered  a  public  reprimand, 
and  gave  orders  that  in  no  circumstances  were  ailing 
prisoners  to  be  subjected  to  corporal  punishment. 


FROM  THE  REMINISCENCES  OF  BARON 
ALEXANDER  VRANGEL1 

1854—1865 

WHEN  I  lived  in  Petersburg  before  my  transfer  to 
Siberia,  I  was  not  acquainted  with  Fyodor  Dostoevsky, 
though  I  knew  his  favourite  brother,  Michael.  I  went 
to  see  the  latter  before  I  left;  when  I  told  him  that 
I  was  going  to  Siberia,  he  begged  me  to  take  with 
me  for  his  brother,  a  letter,  some  linen,  some  books, 
and  fifty  roubles.  Apollon  Maikov  also  gave  me  a 
letter  for  Fyodor  Dostoevsky. 

When  I  reached  Omsk  at  the  end  of  November, 
I  found  that  Fyodor  Dostoevsky  was  no  longer  there; 
he  had  completed  his  time  in  prison,  and  had  been 
sent  as  a  private  soldier  to  Semipalatinsk.  Soon 
afterwards,  I  was  obliged,  in  the  course  of  my  duty, 
to  settle  for  quite  a  long  time  at  Semipalatinsk. 

Destiny  thus  brought  me,  exactly  five  years  after 
the  scene  on  Semyonovsky  Square,  at  which  I  had 
happened  to  be  present  and  which  had  been  so 
momentous  for  Dostoevsky,  again  into  contact  with 
him,  and  that  for  some  years. 

On  my  way  to  Semipalatinsk  I  visited  Omsk  again. 
There  I  made  the  acquaintance  of  Mme.  Ivanova, 
who  had  been  very  kind  to  Dostoevsky  during  his 
time  in  prison.  She  was  the  daughter  of  the 

1  Baron  Alexander  Vrangel,  as  a  young  student,  was  present 
on  December  22,   1849,  at  the  ceremony  in  Semyonovsky 
Square.     He  went  to  Siberia  in  1854  as  District- Attorney. 
272 


A  REAL  FRIEND  273 

Decembrist  Annenkov  and  his  wife,  Praskovya 
Ivanova,  a  Frenchwoman  by  birth,  who,  like  many 
another  of  the  Decembrists'  wives,  had  followed  her 
husband  into  exile.  Mme.  Ivanova's  husband  was 
an  officer  of  the  Gendarmerie.  She  was  a  wonder- 
fully kind  and  highly  cultured  woman,  the  friend  of 
all  unfortunate  folk,  but  particularly  of  the  political 
prisoners.  She  and  her  mother  had  made  Dostoevsky's 
acquaintance  first  at  Tobolsk,  whither  he  had  been 
brought  from  Petersburg  in  the  beginning  of  the  year 
1850.  Tobolsk  was  then  the  clearing-house  for  all 
offenders  transported  from  European  Russia;  from 
Tobolsk  they  were  sent  to  the  other  Siberian  towns. 
Mme.  Ivanova  provided  Dostoevsky  with  linen,  books, 
and  money  while  he  was  at  Tobolsk;  at  Omsk,  too, 
she  looked  after  him  and  alleviated  his  durance  in 
many  ways.  When,  in  1856,  I  returned  to  Peters- 
burg, Dostoevsky  asked  me  to  visit  her,  and  convey 
his  gratitude  for  all  the  goodness  she  had  shown  him. 
I  must  observe  that  the  political  offenders  of  that 
time  were,  in  most  cases,  much  more  humanely  and 
cordially  treated  by  their  official  superiors  and  by  the 
gentry  than  in  later  years.  In  the  reign  of  Nicholas  I. 
the  whole  of  Siberia  was  crammed  with  political 
offenders,  Russians  as  well  as  Poles;  these  were  all 
cultured,  liberal  persons,  absolutely  sincere  and  con- 
vinced. But  Fyodor  Dostoevsky  awakened  quite 
peculiar  sympathy.  He  told  me  himself  that  neither 
in  the  prison  nor  later  during  his  military  service 
was  ever  a  hair  of  his  head  hurt  by  his  superiors  or 
by  the  other  prisoners  or  soldiers;  all  the  newspaper 
reports  that  declare  otherwise  are  pure  invention. 
For  it  has  frequently  been  maintained  that  Dos- 
toevsky's fits  were  brought  on  by  the  corporal 
chastisement  he  received ;  and  many  appear  to  believe 
this  legend. 

18 


274     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

In  November,  1854,  then,  I  came  to  Semipalatinsk. 
On  the  morning  after  my  arrival,  I  betook  myself  to 
the  Military  Governor,  Spiridonov.  He  at  once  sent 
his  adjutant  to  look  out  for  rooms  for  me;  and 
within  a  few  hours  I  had  settled  down  in  my  new 
home.  I  inquired  of  the  Governor  how  and  where  I 
could  find  Dostoevsky,  and  ask  him  to  come  to  tea 
with  me  that  evening.  Dostoevsky  was  then  living 
in  an  abode  of  his  own  (and  no  longer  in  barracks). 

At  first  he  did  not  know  who  I  was  and  why  I  had 
asked  him  to  come ;  so  he  was  in  the  beginning  very 
reticent.  He  wore  a  grey  military  cloak  with  a  high 
red  collar  and  red  epaulettes;  his  pale,  freckled  face 
had  a  morose  expression.  His  fair  hair  was  closely 
shorn.  He  scrutinized  me  keenly  with  his  intelligent 
blue-grey  eyes,  as  if  seeking  to  divine  what  sort 
of  person  I  was.  As  he  confessed  to  me  later  on,  he 
had  been  almost  frightened  when  my  messenger 
told  him  that  the  District-Attorney  wished  to  see 
him.  But  when  I  apologized  for  not  having  first 
visited  him  personally,  gave  him  the  letters,  parcels, 
and  messages  from  Petersburg,  and  showed  my 
friendly  feeling,  he  quickly  grew  cheerful  and  confi- 
dential. Afterwards  he  told  me  that  on  that  first 
evening  he  had  instinctively  divined  in  me  an  intimate 
friend-to-be. 

While  he  read  the  letters  I  had  brought,  tears 
came  into  his  eyes;  I  too  was  overcome  by  that 
mysterious  sense  of  despair  and  desolation  which  I 
had  so  often  felt  during  my  long  journey.  As  I  was 
talking  with  Dostoevsky,  a  whole  pile  of  letters  from 
my  relatives  and  friends  in  Petersburg  was  brought 
to  me.  I  ran  through  the  letters  and  suddenly  began 
to  sob;  I  was  at  that  time  unusually  emotional  and 
greatly  attached  to  my  family.  My  separation  from 
all  who  were  dear  to  me  seemed  insupportable,  and  I 


SEMIPALATINSK  275 

was  quite  terrified  of  my  future  life.  So  there  we 
were  together,  both  in  a  desolate  and  lonely  condition. 
...  1  felt  so  heavy-hearted  that  I  forgot  my  exalted 
position  as  District -Attorney,  and  fell  on  the  neck  of 
Fyodor  Michailovitch,  who  stood  looking  at  me  with 
mournful  eyes.  He  comforted  me,  pressed  my  hand 
like  an  old  friend,  and  we  promised  one  another  to 
meet  as  often  as  possible.  Dostoevsky  was,  as  is 
known,  discharged  from  prison  early  in  the  year  1854, 
and  sent  to  Semipalatinsk  as  a  private.  At  first  he 
lived  with  the  other  soldiers  in  barracks;  but  soon, 
through  the  influence  of  General  Ivanov,  he  got  per- 
mission to  live  in  a  private  house  near  the  barracks, 
under  the  supervision  of  his  Captain,  Stepanov.  He 
was  under  surveillance  by  his  sergeant  as  well,  but 
the  latter  left  him  alone,  on  receipt  of  a  trifling 
"  recognition." 

The  early  days  were  the  worst  for  him ;  the  absolute 
isolation  seemed  unbearable.  But  gradually  he  came 
to  know  some  of  the  officers  and  officials,  though 
there  was  no  close  intercourse.  Naturally,  after  the 
prison,  this  new  condition  of  things  seemed  a  paradise. 
Some  cultured  ladies  in  Semipalatinsk  showed  him 
warm  sympathy,  most  particularly  Mme.  Maria 
Dmitryevna  Issayev,  and  the  wife  of  his  Captain, 
Stepanov.  The  Captain,  a  frightful  drunkard,  had 
been  transferred  from  Petersburg  to  Siberia  for  this 
offence.  His  wife  wrote  verses,  which  Dostoevsky 
was  called  upon  to  read  and  correct.  Mme.  Issayev, 
after  her  husband's  death,  became,  as  everyone  knows, 
Dostoevsky 's  wife. 

In  my  time,  Semipalatinsk  was  something  between 
a  town  and  a  village.  All  the  houses  were  built  of 
wood.  The  population  was  between  five  and  six 
thousand,  including  the  garrison  and  the  AsiuiiY 
merchants.  On  the  left  bank  oi  the  river  thcic  lived 


276     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

about  three  thousand  Circassians.  There  was  an 
Orthodox  church,  seven  mosques,  a  large  caravanserai, 
a  barracks,  a  hospital,  and  the  Government  offices. 
Of  schools  there  was  only  a  district  one.  In  some 
of  the  shops  one  could  buy  anything,  from  tintacks 
to  Parisian  perfumes;  but  there  was  no  bookshop, 
for  there  was  nobody  to  buy  books.  At  the  most, 
from  ten  to  fifteen  of  the  inhabitants  subscribed 
to  a  newspaper;  nor  was  that  any  wonder,  for  at  the 
time  people  in  Siberia  were  interested  only  in  cards, 
gossip,  drinking-bouts,  and  business.  Even  in  the 
Crimean  War  they  took  no  interest,  regarding  it  as 
an  alien,  non-Siberian  affair. 

I  subscribed  to  three  papers:  a  Petersburg  one, 
a  German  one,  and  the  Independance  Beige.  Dos- 
toevsky  delighted  in  reading  the  Russian  and  the 
French  ones;  he  took  no  particular  interest  in  the 
German  paper,  for  at  that  time  he  did  not  understand 
much  German,  and  he  always  disliked  the  language. 

Between  the  Tartar  and  the  Cossack  suburbs  lay 
the  actual  Russian  town;  this  region  was  called  the 
"  Fortress,"  although  the  fortress  had  long  been 
razed;  only  one  great  stone  gate  remained.  In  this 
region  all  the  military  lived;  here  lay  the  battalion 
of  the  Line,  the  Horse-Artillery,  here  were  all  the 
authorities,  the  main  guard,  and  the  prison,  which 
was  under  my  control.  Not  a  tree  nor  a  shrub  was 
to  be  seen;  nothing  but  sand  and  thorny  bush.  Dosto- 
evsky  lived  in  a  wretched  hovel  in  this  part  of  the  town. 

Living  was  then  very  cheap ;  a  pound  of  meat  cost 
half  a  kopeck,  forty  pounds  of  buckwheat  groats, 
thirty  kopecks.  Dostoevsky  used  to  take  home  from 
barracks  his  daily  ration  of  cabbage-soup,  groats,  and 
black  bread;  anything  left  over,  he  would  give  to  his 
poor  landlady.  He  often  lunched  with  me  and  other 
acquaintances.  His  hovel  was  in  the  dreariest  part 


TEA  AND  CIGARETTES  277 

of  the  town.  It  was  of  rough  timber,  crazy,  warped, 
without  any  foundations,  and  with  not  one  window 
looking  on  the  street. 

Dostoevsky  had  a  quite  large,  but  very  low  and 
badly-lit  room.  The  mud-walls  had  once  been  white ; 
on  both  sides  stood  broad  benches.  On  the  walls 
hung  fly-spotted  picture-sheets.  To  the  left  of  the 
doorway  was  a  large  stove.  Behind  the  stove  stood 
a  bed,  a  little  table,  and  a  chest  of  drawers,  which 
served  as  a  dressing-table.  All  this  corner  was 
divided  from  the  rest  of  the  room  by  a  calico  curtain. 
In  the  windows  were  geraniums,  and  curtains  hung 
there  which  had  once  been  red.  Walls  and  ceiling 
were  blackened  by  smoke,  and  it  was  so  dark  in  the 
room  that  in  the  evenings  one  could  scarcely  read  by 
the  tallow  candle  (wax  candles  were  then  a  great 
luxury,  and  petroleum  lamps  not  known  at  all).  I 
can't  even  imagine  how  Dostoevsky  contrived  to 
write  for  whole  nig"  its  by  such  illumination.  The 
lodgings  had  yet  another  great  attraction:  on  the 
tables,  walls,  and  bed  there  were  always  perfect  flocks 
of  beetles,  and  in  summer  the  place  swarmed  with 
fleas. 

Every  day  made  us  greater  friends.  Dostoevsky 
visited  me  several  times  a  day,  as  often  as  his  military 
and  my  official  duties  permitted;  he  often  lunched 
with  me,  and  particularly  enjoyed  an  evening  at  my 
house,  when  he  would  drink  a  vast  quantity  o^tea, 
and  smoke  endless  cigarettes. 

My  intercourse  with  Dostoevsky  soon  attracted 
attention  in  the  circle  most  concerned.  I  noticed 
that  my  letters  were  delayed  for  some  days  in  trans- 
mission to  me.  My  enemies,  and  I  had  not  a  few 
among  the  venal  officials,  often  asked  me  ironical 
questions  about  Dostoevsky,  and  expressed  their 
surprise  at  my  consorting  with  a  private.  Even  the 


278     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

Governor  warned  me,  and  said  that  he  was  afraid  of 
the  evil  influence  which  the  revolutionary  Dostoevsky 
might  have  on  one  of  my  youth  and  inexperience. 

The  Military  Governor,  Spiridonov,  was  an  un- 
commonly pleasant,  humane,  and  unaffected  man, 
and  noted  for  his  unusual  hospitality.  Being  of  such 
high  rank,  he  was  naturally  the  most  important 
person  in  the  town.  I  lunched  with  him  every  other 
day,  and  enjoyed  his  fullest  confidence.  I  wanted 
him  to  have  the  opportunity  of  knowing  Dostoevsky 
better,  and  begged  for  permission  to  bring  the  exile 
to  his  house.  He  pondered  this  a  while,  and  said: 
"  Well,  bring  him  some  time,  but  tell  him  that  he  is 
to  come  quite  without  ceremony  in  his  uniform." 

Spiridonov  very  soon  grew  to  like  Dostoevsky;  he 
helped  him  in  every  way  he  could.  After  the  Military 
Governor  had  set  the  example,  the  better  families  of 
Semipalatinsk  opened  their  doors  to  Dostoevsky. 

There  were  no  amusements  of  any  sort  in  the 
town.  During  the  two  years  of  my  stay,  not  a 
single  musician  came  to  the  place;  the  one  piano 
was  regarded  more  as  a  rarity  than  anything  else. 
Once  the  regimental  clerks  got  up  amateur  theatricals 
in  the  riding-school.  Dostoevsky  was  very  useful  in 
giving  them  advice,  and  persuaded  me  to  be  present 
on  the  night.  The  whole  town  assembled  in  the 
riding-school.  The  fair  sex  was  particularly  well 
represented.  This  performance  ended  in  a  great 
scandal.  In  the  pause  between  two  acts,  some  regi- 
mental clerks  appeared  as  soloists,  and  offered  such 
indecent  ditties  for  the  company's  amusement  that 
the  ladies  took  flight,  though  the  officers,  led  by  the 
commander  of  the  battalion,  one  Byelikov,  roared 
with  laughter. 

I  can't  remember  a  single  dance,  picnic,  or  organized 
excursion.  Every  one  lived  for  himself.  The  men 


DOSTOEVSKY  AT  HIS  BEST  279 

drank,  ate,  played  cards,  made  scandals,  and  visited 
the  rich  Tartars  of  the  neighbourhood;  the  women 
busied  themselves  chiefly  with  gossip. 

In  Semipalatinsk  there  were  other  political  offenders 
— Poles  and  whilom  Hungarian  officers  of  Russian- 
Polish  origin.  When  Gorgey  in  1848  surrendered 
with  his  army  to  Russia,  Tsar  Nicholas  I.  treated  the 
officers  who  had  been  taken  prisoners  in  the  war  as 
though  they  had  been  formerly  his  subjects,  and  sent 
them  to  Siberia.  The  Poles  kept  to  themselves,  and 
held  no  intercourse  with  others.  The  rich  ones  looked 
after  the  poor,  and  there  prevailed  in  general  great 
solidarity  among  them.  Fyodor  Dostoevsky  did  not 
like  these  Poles,  and  usually  avoided  them  ;  we 
became  acquainted  with  only  one,  the  engineer 
Hirschfeld,  who  often  visited  us,  and  brought  a 
certain  variety  into  our  monotonous  life. 

I  grew  fonder  and  fonder  of  Dostoevsky;  my 
house  was  open  to  him  day  and  night.  When  I 
returned  from  duty,  I  often  found  him  there  already, 
having  come  to  me  from  the  drill-ground  or  the 
regimental  office.  He  would  be  walking  up  and 
down  the  room  with  his  cloak  unfastened,  smoking 
a  pipe,  and  talking  to  himself;  his  head  was  always 
full  of  new  ideas.  I  can  still  remember  distinctly 
one  such  evening  ;  he  was  then  occupied  with 
"  Uncle's  Dream  "  and  "  Stepanchikovo  Village." 

He  was  in  an  infectiously  cheerful  mood,  laughing, 
telling  me  of  his  "  Uncle's "  adventures,  singing 
operatic  airs;  when  my  servant  Adam  brought  in 
some  amber-coloured  sturgeon  soup,  he  declared  that 
he  was  hungry,  and  urged  Adam  to  hurry  up  with 
the  rest  of  the  meal.  He  greatly  liked  this  Adam — 
always  stood  up  for  him,  and  would  give  him  money, 
which  afforded  my  Leporello,  a  terrible  drunkard 
quite  superfluous  opportunities  for  "  one  more." 


280     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

Fyodor  Dostoevsky's  favourite  authors  were  Gogol 
and  Victor  Hugo.  When  he  was  in  a  good  temper 
he  liked  to  declaim  poetry,  and  especially  Pushkin's ; 
his  favourite  piece  waS  "  The  Banquet  of  Cleopatra," 
from  the  "  Egyptian  Nights."  He  would  recite  it 
with  glowing  eyes  and  ardent  voice. 

I  must  observe  that  at  that  time  I  was  little 
interested  in  literature;  I  had  devoted  myself  wholly 
to  dry  erudition,  and  this  often  made  Dostoevsky 
angry.  More  than  once  he  said  to  me:  "  Do  throw 
away  your  professorial  text -books  !"  He  often  sought 
to  convince  me  that  Siberia  could  have  no  future, 
because  all  the  Siberian  rivers  run  into  the  Arctic 
Sea. 

At  that  time  Muravyov's  achievements  on  the 
Pacific  Coast  were  unknown  to  the  world,  and  of  the 
great  Siberian  Railway  no  one  had  so  much  as  dared 
to  dream;  such  a  plan  would  have  been  taken  for 
the  delirium  of  a  madman.  I  myself  could  not  help 
laughing  when  Bakunin,  whose  acquaintance  I  made 
in  1858,  unfolded  the  idea  to  me. 

More  and  more  I  grew  to  care  for  Dostoevsky. 
How  highly  I  esteemed  him  is  evident  from  my 
letters  to  my  relatives;  these  I  have  at  hand  to-day. 
On  April  2,  1856,  I  wrote  from  Semipalatinsk : 
"  Destiny  has  brought  me  into  contact  with  a  man 
of  rare  intellect  and  disposition — the  gifted  young 
author  Dostoevsky.  I  owe  him  much;  his  words, 
counsels,  and  ideas  will  be  a  source  of  strength  to  me 
throughout  all  my  life.  I  work  daily  with  him;  at  the 
moment  we  think  of  translating  Hegel's  '  Philosophy  ' 
and  the  '  Psyche  '  of  Carus.  He  is  deeply  religious ; 
frail  of  body,  but  endowed  with  iron  will.  Do  try, 
my  dear  papa,  to  find  out  if  there  is  any  idea  of  an 
amnesty." 
In  a  letter  to  one  of  my  sisters  I  read:  "  I  beg  of 


HIS  SYMPATHY  281 

you  to  persuade  papa  to  find  out,  through  Alexander 
Veimarn,  whether  any  prisoners  are  to  be  pardoned 
on  the  occasion  of  the  Coronation  festivities,  and 
whether'  one  could  do  anything  for  Dostoevsky  with 
Dubelt,  or  Prince  Orlov.1  Is  this  remarkable  man 
to  languish  here  for  ever  as  a  private  ?  It  would  be 
too  terrible.  I  am  sorely  distressed  about  him;  I 
love  him  like  a  brother,  and  honour  him  like  a 
father." 

Dostoevsky 's  indulgence  for  everyone  was  quite 
extraordinary.  He  found  excuses  for  even  the  worst 
of  human  traits,  and  explained  them  all  by  defective 
education,  the  influence  of  environment,  and  inherited 
temperament. 

"  Ah,  my  dear  Alexander  Yegorovitch,  God  has 
made  men  so,  once  for  all !"  he  used  to  say.  He 
sympathized  with  all  who  were  abandoned  by  destiny, 
with  all  the  unhappy,  ill,  and  poor.  Everyone  who 
knew  him  well  knows  of  his  extraordinary  goodness 
of  heart.  How  pathetic  is  his  solicitude,  for  instance, 
about  his  brother  Michael's  family,  about  little  Pasha 
Issayev,  and  many  others  besides  ! 

We  often  spoke  of  politics  too.  Of  his  trial  he 
did  not  care  to  talk,  and  I  never  alluded  to  it  of 
my  own  accord.  All  I  heard  from  him  was  that 
he  had  never  liked  Petrachevsky  or  approved  his 
plans;  he  had  always  been  of  opinion  that  there 
should  be  no  thought  of  a  political  upheaval  in  Russia 
at  that  period,  and  that  the  idea  of  a  Russian 
Constitution  on  the  model  of  those  of  West- 
European  States  was,  considering  the  ignorance 
of  the  great  mass  of  the  people,  nothing  less  than 
ridiculous. 
He  often  thought  of  his  comrades,  Dourov, 

1  Dubelt  was  Chief  of  the  Police;  Orlov  of  the  Gendar- 
merie. 


282     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

Plechtcheyev,  and  Grigoryev.  He  corresponded  with 
none  of  them,  though;  through  my  hands  went  only 
his  letters  to  his  brother  Michael,  once  in  a  way  to 
Apollon  Maikov,  to  his  Aunt  Kamanina,  and  to 
young  Yakuchkin. 

And  now  I  must  relate  what  I  know  of  his  epileptic 
fits.  I  never,  thank  God,  saw  one  of  them.  But  I 
know  that  they  frequently  recurred;  his  landlady 
usually  sent  for  me  at  once.  After  the  fits  he 
always  felt  shattered  for  two  or  three  days,  and  his 
brain  would  not  work.  The  first  fits,  as  he  declared, 
had  overtaken  him  in  Petersburg;  but  the  malady 
had  developed  in  prison.  At  Semipalatinsk  he  would 
have  one  every  three  months.  He  told  me  that  he 
could  always  feel  the  fit  coming  on,  and  always 
experienced  beforehand  an  indescribable  sense  of 
well-being.  After  each  attack  he  presented  a  woe- 
fully dejected  aspect. 

Fyodor  Dostoevsky  led  a  more  sociable  life  than  I 
did;  he  went  particularly  often  to  the  Issayevs'.  He 
would  spend  whole  evenings  at  that  house,  and 
among  other  things  gave  lessons  to  the  only  son, 
Pasha,  an  intelligent  boy  of  eight  or  nine.  Maria 
Dmitryevna  Issayev  was,  if  I  am  not  mistaken,  the 
daughter  of  a  schoolmaster,  and  had  married  a 
junior  master.  How  he  had  come  to  be  in  Siberia 
I  cannot  say.  Issayev  suffered  from  pulmonary 
consumption,  and  was,  moreover,  a  great  drunkard. 
Otherwise  he  was  a  quiet,  unpretentious  person. 
Maria  Dmitryevna  was  about  thirty,  an  extremely 
pretty  blonde  of  middle  height,  very  thin,  passionate, 
and  exaltee.  Even  then  one  often  saw  a  hectic  flush 
on  her  cheek;  some  years  later  she  died  of  con- 
sumption. She  was  well  read,  not  unaccomplished, 
witty  and  appreciative  of  wit,  very  good-hearted, 
and  uncommonly  vivacious  and  romantic.  She  took 


DOSTOEVSKY  AS  GARDENER          283 

a  warm  interest  in  Fyodor  Michailovitch.  I  do  not 
think  that  she  highly  esteemed  him;  it  was  more 
that  she  pitied  him.  Possibly  she  was  attached  to 
him  also;  but  in  love  with  him  she  most  decidedly 
never  was.  She  knew  that  he  had  epileptic  attacks, 
and  that  he  suffered  dire  poverty ;  she  often  said  he 
was  "  a  man  without  a  future."  But  Fyodor  Michailo- 
vitch took  her  compassion  and  sympathy  for  love, 
and  adored  her  with  all  the  ardour  of  his  youth.  He 
would  spend  whole  days  at  the  Issayevs',  and  tried  to 
induce  me  to  go  there  too,  but  the  family  did  not 
attract  me. 

In  the  beginning  of  March,  Squadron- Ad  jut  ant 
Achmatov  came  to  Omsk  (he  had  done  the  journey 
from  Petersburg  in  ten  days)  with  news  of  the 
decease  of  Tsar  Nicholas  I.  The  news  reached  us 
in  Semipalatinsk  on  March  12. 

Rumours  of  the  clemency  and  mildness  of  the  new 
Tsar  had  already  penetrated  to  Semipalatinsk.  I 
went  with  Dostoevsky  to  the  Requiem  Mass.  The 
general  demeanour  was  grave  enough,  but  one  saw 
not  a  single  tear;  only  some  old  officers  and  soldiers 
so  much  as  sighed.  Dostoevsky  now  began  to  hope 
for  a  change  in  his  fate,  for  an  amnesty.  Most  of  all 
we  discussed  the  question  of  whether  the  Crimean 
War  would  go  on. 

In  the  summer  I  went  into  the  country  with 
Dostoevsky  to  the  so-called  "  Kasakov  Gardens." 
The  place  lay  on  the  high  bank  of  the  Irtich.  We 
built  a  bathing-box  close  to  the  bank  among  bush, 
underwood,  and  sedge,  and  began  bathing  as  early  as 
May.  We  also  worked  hard  in  the  flower-garden. 
I  can  see  Dostoevsky  now,  watering  the  young  plants ; 
he  would  take  off  his  regimental  cloak,  and  stand 
among  the  flower-beds  in  a  pink  cotton  shirt.  Round 
his  neck  hung  a  long  chain  of  little  blue  glass  beads — 


284     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

probably  a  keepsake  from  some  fair  hand.  On  this 
chain  he  carried  a  large  bulbous  silver  watch.  He 
was  quite  fascinated  with  gardening,  and  took  great 
delight  in  it. 

The  summer  was  extraordinarily  hot.  The  two 
daughters  of  Dostoevsky's  landlady  in  the  town  often 
helped  us  with  our  gardening.  After  some  hours  of 
work  we  would  go  to  bathe,  and  then  drink  tea  up 
above.  We  read  newspapers,  smoked,  talked  about 
our  Petersburg  friends,  and  abused  Western  Europe. 
The  Crimean  War  still  lasted,  and  we  were  both  in  a 
gloomy  frame  of  mind. 

I  passionately  loved  riding ;  one  day  I  succeeded  in 
persuading  Dostoevsky  to  try  a  mount,  and  placed 
one  of  the  gentlest  of  my  horses  at  his  disposal;  for 
this  was  the  first  time  in  his  life  that  he  had  ever  been 
on  horseback.  Comical  and  awkward  as  he  looked  in 
the  saddle,  he  soon  grew  to  like  riding,  and  thenceforth 
we  began  to  take  long  canters  over  the  steppes. 

Dostoevsky's  love  for  Mme.  Issayev  was  by  no 
means  cooling  all  this  time.  He  went  to  her  house 
as  often  as  he  could,  and  would  come  back  in  a 
perfect  ecstasy.  He  could  not  understand  why  I 
failed  to  share  his  enchantment. 

Once  he  returned  in  utter  despair  and  told  me  that 
Issayev  was  to  be  transferred  to  Kusnezk,  a  town  five 
hundred  versts  distant  from  Semipalatinsk.  "  And 
she  is  quite  calm,  appears  to  see  nothing  amiss  with 
it.  ...  Isn't  that  maddening  ?"  he  said  bitterly. 

Issayev  was  really  transferred  soon  after  that  to 
Kusnezk.  Dostoevsky's  despair  was  immeasurable; 
he  nearly  went  out  of  his  mind;  he  regarded  the 
impending  good-bye  to  Mafia  Dmitryevna  as  a  good- 
bye to  life.  It  turned  out  that  the  Issayevs  were 
heavily  in  debt;  when  they  had  sold  all  they  had  in 
payment  of  these  obligations,  they  had  nothing  left 


THE  ISSAYEVS  GO  285 

over  for  the  journey.  I  helped  them  out,  and  at  last 
they  started. 

I  shall  never  forget  the  leave-taking.  Dostoevsky 
wept  aloud  like  a  little  child.  Many  years  afterwards 
in  a  letter  to  me  of  March  31,  1865,  he  alluded  to 
that  scene. 

Dostoevsky  and  I  decided  to  go  part  of  the  way 
with  the  Issayevs.  I  took  him  in  my  carriage,  the 
Issayevs  sat  in  an  open  diligence.  Before  the  de- 
parture, they  all  turned  in  to  drink  a  glass  of  wine  at 
my  house.  So  as  to  enable  Dostoevsky  to  have  one 
last  talk  undisturbed  with  Maria  Dmitryevna  before 
she  went,  I  made  her  husband  properly  drunk.  On 
the  way  I  gave  him  some  more  champagne,  thus 
getting  him  wholly  into  my  power — then  took  him  into 
my  carriage,  where  he  forthwith  fell  asleep.  Fyodor 
Michailovitch  went  into  Maria  Dmitry evna's.  It  was 
a  wonderful  clear  moonlight  night  in  May;  the  air 
was  filled  with  soft  perfume.  Thus  we  drove  a  long 
way.  At  last  we  were  obliged  to  part.  Those  two 
embraced  for  the  last  time,  and  wiped  the  tears  from 
their  eyes,  while  I  dragged  the  drunken  and  drowsy 
Issayev  over  to  the  carriage;  he  at  once  went  off 
again,  and  never  knew  in  the  least  what  had  been 
done  with  him.  Little  Pasha  was  fast  asleep  too. 
The  diligence  set  off,  a  cloud  of  dust  arose,  already 
we  could  see  it  no  more  and  the  sound  of  the  little 
bells  was  dying  away  in  the  distance ;  but  Dostoevsky 
stood  stark  and  dumb,  and  the  tears  were  streaming 
down  his  cheeks.  I  went  up  to  him,  took  his  hand — 
he  awoke  from  his  trance  and,  without  saying  a  word, 
got  into  the  carriage.  We  did  not  get  back  till  dawn. 
Dostoevsky  did  not  lie  down  and  try  to  sleep,  but 
kept  walking  to  and  fro  in  his  room,  talking  to  him- 
self. After  that  sleepless  night,  he  went  to  camp  for 
drill.  Home  again,  he  lay  there  the  whole  day, 


286      RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

neither  eating  nor  drinking,  and  smoking  pipe  after 
pipe. 

Time  did  its  work,  and  Dostoevsky's  morbid  despair 
came  to  an  end.  He  was  in  constant  communication 
with  Kusnezk,  but  that  did  not  always  bring  him 
happiness.  Fyodor  Michailovitch  had  gloomy  fore- 
bodings. Mme.  Issayev,  in  her  letters,  complained 
of  bitter  poverty,  of  her  own  ill-health  and  the  in- 
curable sufferings  of  her  husband,  of  the  joyless  future 
which  awaited  her;  and  all  this  sorely  depressed 
Dostoevsky.  He  failed  more  and  more  in  health, 
became  morose,  irritable,  and  looked  like  the  shadow 
of  a  man.  He  even  gave  up  working  at  "  The  House 
of  the  Dead,"  which  he  had  begun  with  such  ardour. 
Only  when,  on  warm  evenings,  we  lay  in  the  grass 
and  looked  up  to  the  star-sown  sky-,  did  he  know 
relative  well-being.  Such  moments  had  a  tranquil- 
lizing effect  on  him.  We  seldom  spoke  of  religion. 
He  was  at  heart  religious,  though  he  rarely  entered  a 
church;  the  popes,  and  especially  the  Siberian  ones, 
he  could  not  stand  at  all.  Of  Christ  he  would  speak 
with  moving  rapture.  His  manner  in  speech  was 
most  peculiar.  In  general  he  did  not  speak  loudly, 
often  indeed  in  a  whisper;  but  when  he  grew  enthu- 
siastic, his  voice  would  become  louder  and  more 
sonorous ;  and  when  he  was  greatly  excited,  he  would 
pour  forth  words,  and  enchain  his  hearers  by  the 
passion  of  his  utterance.  What  wonderful  hours  I 
have  passed  with  him  !  How  much  I  owe  to  my 
intercourse  with  that  greatly  gifted  man  !  In  the 
whole  of  our  life  together  there  never  was  a  single 
misunderstanding  between  us;  our  friendship  was 
untroubled  by  one  cloud.  He  was  ten  years  older, 
and  much  more  experienced,  than  I.  Whenever,  in 
my  youthful  crudity,  I  began,  terrified  by  the  re- 
pellent environment,  to  lose  heart,  Dostoevsky  would 


PREPARING  FOR  WAR  287 

always  tell  me  to  take  courage,  would  renew  my 
energies  by  his  counsel  and  his  warm  sympathy. 
I  cherish  his  memory  especially  on  account  of  the 
human  feeling  with  which  he  inspired  me.  After  all 
this,  the  reader  will  understand  that  I  could  not  be 
an  indifferent  witness  of  the  unhappy  frame  of  mind 
into  which  his  unfortunate  relation  with  Mme.  Issayev 
had  brought  him. 

I  made  up  my  mind  to  distract  him  from  it  in 
every  way  I  could.  On  every  opportunity,  I  brought 
him  about  with  me,  and  made  him  known  to  the 
engineers  of  the  lead  and  silver  mines  that  lie  near 
by.  But  I  found  it  very  hard  to  woo  him  from  his 
mournful  brooding.  He  had  got  superstitious  all  of 
a  sudden,  and  would  often  tell  me  tales  of  somnam- 
bulists, or  visit  fortune-tellers;  and  as  I,  at  twenty, 
had  my  own  romance,  he  took  me  to  an  old  man, 
who  told  fortunes  by  beans. 

About  this  time  I  heard  from  Petersburg  that  the 
new  Tsar  was  gracious  and  unusually  clement,  that 
people  were  feeling  a  new  spirit  in  things,  and  expect- 
ing great  reforms.  This  news  had  a  most  encouraging 
effect  on  Dostoevsky;  he  grew  more  cheerful,  and 
much  more  rarely  refused  the  distractions  that  I 
offered  him. 

One  day  there  came  tidings  from  Omsk  that  in 
consequence  of  the  political  tension  on  the  southern 
border  and  the  unrest  among  the  Circassians,  the 
Governor  of  Omsk  was  coming  to  Semipalatinsk,  to 
review  the  troops;  it  was  said  that  on  this  occasion 
he  would  also  review  the  rest  of  the  Siberian 
garrisons. 

So  Dostoevsky,  like  the  rest,  had  to  prepare  for  the 
possible  campaign  in  every  way ;  he  had  to  get  boots, 
a  waterproof  coat,  linen,  and  other  indispensable 
clothing — in  a  word,  to  equip  himself  afresh  from 


288     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

head  to  foot;  for  he  possessed  no  clothes  but  those 
he  had  on.     Again  he  needed  money,  again  he  racked 
his  brains  to  think  where  to  get  it.     These  cursed 
money-worries   never  left   him.     From  his   brother 
Michael  and  his  aunt  he  had  just  then  had  a  small 
sum;  so  he  could  not  possibly  ask  them  again.     Such 
anxieties  tormented  him  terribly;  and  from  Kusnezk 
the  news  grew  more  troubling  every  day.      Mme. 
Issayev  was  dying  of  loneliness  beside  her  sick  and 
ever-drunken  husband,   and  complained  in  all  her 
letters  of  isolation  and  want  of  someone  to  talk  to. 
In  her  more  recent  letters  there  often  occurred  the 
name  of  a  new  acquaintance,  an  interesting  young 
teacher,  and  colleague  of  her  husband.     In  each  suc- 
ceeding letter  she  spoke  of  him  with  more  enthusiasm 
and  pleasure;  she  praised  his  kindness,  his  fidelity, 
and  his  remarkable  powers  of  affection.     Dostoevsky 
was  tortured  by  jealousy;  and  his  dark  mood  had, 
moreover,  a  harmful  influence  on  his  state  of  health. 
I  was  sorely  distressed  about  him,  and  resolved  to 
arrange  a  meeting  with  Maria  Dmitryevna  at  Smiyev, 
half-way  between  Kusnezk  and   Semipalatinsk.      I 
hoped  that  an  interview  might  put  an  end  to  the 
unhappy  state  of  affairs.      But  I  had  set  myself  a 
difficult  task;  how  was  I  to  take  Dostoevsky  from 
Semipalatinsk  to  Smiyev,  without  anybody's  know- 
ledge ?     The  authorities  would  never  permit  him  so 
long  a  journey.     The  Governor  and  the  Colonel  had 
already  twice  refused  his  applications  for  leave.     It 
reduced  itself  simply  to  taking  our  chance.     I  wrote 
at  once  to  Kusnezk  and  asked  Maria  Dmitryevna  to 
come  to  Smiyev  on  a  certain  day.     At  the  same  time 
I  spread  a  rumour  in  the  town  that  Dostoevsky  had 
been  so  run  down  by  several  violent  epileptic  attacks 
that  he  was  obliged  to  keep  his  bed.     I  also  informed 
his  Colonel  that  he  was  ill,  and  under  treatment  by 


A  MAD  PRANK  289 

the  military  doctor,  Lamotte.  This  Lamotte,  how- 
ever, was  our^ood  friend,  and  in  our  confidence.  He 
was  a  Pole,  formerly  a  student  at  the  University  of 
Vilna,  and  had  been  sent  to  Siberia  for  some  political 
misdemeanour.  My  servants  were  instructed  to  say 
to  everyone  that  Dostoevsky  was  lying  ill  in  my 
house.  The  shutters  were  shut,  "to  keep  the  light 
from  disturbing  the  invalid."  Nobody  was  allowed 
to  enter.  Luckily  for  us,  all  the  commanding  officers 
were  away,  from  the  Military  Governor  downwards. 

Everything  was  in  our  favour.  We  started  about 
ten  o'clock  at  night.  We  drove  like  the  wind;  but 
poor  Dostoevsky  thought  we  were  going  at  a  snail's 
pace,  and  conjured  the  coachman  to  drive  still  faster. 
We  travelled  all  night,  and  reached  Smiyev  by  morn- 
ing. How  terrible  was  Dostoevsky's  disappointment 
when  we  were  told  that  Maria  Dmitryevna  was  not 
coming  !  A  letter  from  her  had  arrived,  in  which  she 
told  us  that  her  husband  was  worse,  and  moreover 
that  she  had  no  money  for  the  journey.  I  can't 
attempt  to  convey  the  despair  of  Dostoevsky ;  I  had 
to  rack  my  brains  to  tranquillize  him  in  any  sort  of 
way. 

That  same  day  we  returned,  having  done  the 
300  versts  in  twenty-eight  hours.  Once  at  home,  we 
changed  our  clothes  and  instantly  went  to  see  some 
acquaintances.  So  nobody  ever  knew  anything  about 
our  prank. 

Our  life  went  monotonously  on;  Dostoevsky  was 
mostly  in  dejected  mood,  and  at  times  worked  very 
hard;  I  tried  to  divert  him  as  well  as  I  could.  There 
was  no  variety  at  all  in  our  way  of  life;  we  walked 
daily  to  the  bank  of  the  Irtich,  worked  in  the  garden, 
bathed,  drank  tea,  and  smoked  on  the  balcony. 
Sometimes  I  would  sit  with  a  rod  by  the  water, 
while  Dostoevsky  lay  near  me  on  the  grass  and  read 

19 


290      RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

aloud;  all  the  books  I  had  were  gone  through  count- 
less times  in  this  way.  Among  others  he  read  to 
me,  "  for  my  instruction,"  Aksakov's  "  Angling,"  and 
"  A  Sportsman's  Sketches."  There  was  no  library 
in  the  town.  The  numerous  books  on  zoology  and 
natural  science  that  I  had  brought  from  Petersburg, 
I  knew  almost  by  heart.  Dostoevsky  preferred  fine 
literature,  and  we  eagerly  devoured  any  new  book. 
The  monotony  of  our  lives  was  redeemed,  however, 
by  the  hours  in  which  Dostoevsky 's  creative  inspira- 
tion came  over  him.  In  such  hours,  he  was  in  so 
uplifted  a  state  that  I  too  was  infected  by  it.  Even 
life  in  Semipalatinsk  seemed  not  so  bad  in  those 
moments ;  but  alas !  the  mood  always  went  as 
suddenly  as  it  had  come.  Every  unfavourable  report 
from  Kusnezk  brought  it  "to  an  end  at  one  blow; 
Dostoevsky  instantly  collapsed,  and  was  seedy  and 
wretched  again. 

As  I  have  already  mentioned,  he  was  then  working 
at  "  The  House  of  the  Dead."  I  had  the  great  good 
luck  to  see  Dostoevsky  in  his  inspired  state,  and  to 
hear  the  first  drafts  of  that  incomparable  work  from 
his  own  lips ;  even  now,  after  all  these  years,  I  recall 
those  moments  with  a  sense  of  exaltation.  I  was 
always  amazed  by  the  superb  humanity  that  glowed 
in  Dostoevsky's  soul,  despite  his  grievous  destiny, 
despite  the  prison,  the  exile,  the  terrible  malady,  and 
the  eternal  want  of  money.  Not  less  was  I  astonished 
by  his  rare  guilelessness  and  gentleness,  which  never 
left  him  even  in  his  worst  hours. 

[Baron  Vrangel  goes  on  to  tell  of  the  arrival  of  the 
Governor-General,  Hasford,  at  Semipalatinsk,  and  of 
his  arrogant  and  domineering  manner.] 

I  was  invited  to  lunch  with  the  other  officials  at  the 
Governor's.  I  had  known  his  wife  in  Petersburg. 


A  LOYAL  POEM  291 

She  received  me  very  cordially,  and  offered  me  a  place 
by  her  side. 

At  table  the  Governor  assumed  quite  a  different 
tone,  and  behaved  like  an  orciinary  mortal.  He 
seemed  in  good  spirits,  asked  me  about  my  acquaint- 
ances, and  let  fall  the  remark  that  he  was  well  aware 
of  my  relations  with  Dostoevsky.  I  made  up  my 
mind  to  play  upon  his  better  temper,  and  win  him  to 
Dostoevsky's  cause.  Dostoevsky  had  shortly  before 
written  a  poem  on  the  death  of  Tsar  Nicholas  I.;  we 
wanted  to  send  it  through  General  Hasford  to  the 
widowed  Tsarina.  The  poem  began,  if  I  remember 
rightly,  in  this  way : 

"  As  evening- red  dies  in  the  heavens, 
So  sank  thy  glorious  spouse  to  rest.  .  ." 

To  my  most  respectfully  proffered  request,  Hasford 
replied  with  an  energetic  "  No,"  and  added:  "I'll  do 
nothing  for  a  whilom  enemy  of  the  Government. 
But  if  they  take  him  up  in  Petersburg  of  their  own 
accord,  I  shall  put  no  obstacle  in  the  way." 

The  poem  reached  the  Tsarina,  nevertheless,  and 
that  in  the  following  way:  I  wrote  two  or  three 
times  to  my  father  and  my  influential  relations,  and 
begged  them  to  discover  some  means  of  bringing  it 
to  the  Tsarina's  notice.  My  endeavours  were  finally 
crowned  with  success:  Prince  Peter  Georgyevitch 
von  Oldenburg  undertook  to  deliver  the  poem.  The 
Prince  was  an  impassioned  musician  and  a  bad  com- 
poser; at  that  time  he  consorted  much  with  the 
well-known  pianist,  Adolf  Henselt,  who  had  to  cor- 
rect his  compositions.  This  Henselt  had  been  for 
many  years  teaching  music  in  our  family.  My 
relatives  applied  to  him,  and  he  willingly  acceded  to 
our  request.  The  poem  really  did  reach  the  Tsarina; 
this  was  told  me  later  by  a  high  official.  Dostoevsky 


292     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

wrote  yet  another  poem:  "On  the  Accession  of 
Alexander  II."  This  I  later  gave  personally  to 
General  Eduard  Ivanovitch  Totleben. 

Dostoevsky  was  now  terribly  affected  by  his 
malady;  often  he  feared  for  his  reason.  He  clearly 
perceived  the  aim  of  his  life  to  be  literary  work.  But 
so  long  as  he  was  in  exile,  he  would  not  be  allowed 
to  publish  his  works;  in  his  despair  he  even  begged 
me  to  let  them  appear  under  my  name.  That  I  did 
not  agree  to  this  proposal,  flattering  as  it  was  for  me, 
I  need  not  say.  Literature,  moreover,  was  his  only 
means  of  earning  money.  He  was  longing  at  this 
time  for  a  personal  life;  he  wanted  to  marry,  and 
hoped  thereby  to  find  "  boundless  happiness."  For 
many  years  he  had  suffered  the  direst  need;  who 
knows — if  Dostoevsky  had  not  taken  that  step  for 
which  his  stern  critics  so  severely  blame  him,  one 
of  the  greatest  Russian  writers,  the  pride  of  Russia, 
might  have ,  languished  to  death  in  the  deserts  of 
Siberia. 

The  projected  campaign  never  came  off.  The 
Governor-General  departed,  and  our  Semipalatinsk 
society  sank  back  into  its  lethargy.  After  their 
urgent  activities  before  the  Governor-General,  the 
soldiers  needed  some  rest,  and  so  Fyodor  Michailo- 
vitch  had  a  little  spare  time.  We  settled  down  again 
in  our  "  Kasakov  Garden,"  and  once  more  the  days 
were  all  alike.  From  Kusnezk  came  the  gloomiest 
tidings ;  Dostoevsky  went  no  »more  to  the  sooth- 
sayers, bored  himself  to  death,  was  always  in  bad 
spirits,  and  took  no  pleasure  in  work.  He  simply  did 
not  know  how  to  kill  the  time.  Then  there  occurred 
to  his  mind  a  certain  Marina  O.,  the  daughter  of  an 
exiled  Pole.  When  he  used  to  go  to  the  Issayevs', 
he  had  interested  himself  in  this  girl  at  Maria 
Dmitryevna's  request,  and  given  her  some  lessons. 


MARINA  293 

Now  he  went  to  her  father,  who  after  some  time 
declared  himself  willing  to  send  her  daily  to  Kasakov 
Gardens  for  instruction.  Marina  was  then  seventeen, 
and  had  grown  into  a  blooming,  pretty  creature. 
She  brought  life  into  our  house,  was  quite  at  her 
ease,  laughing  and  romping,  and  coquetting  with  her 
teacher. 

I  was  at  that  time  absorbed  in  a  love-affair,  and 
sought  diversion  from  it  in  long  journeys.  I  was  for 
two  months  absent  from  Semipalatinsk,  and  in  that 
time  covered  more  than  2,000  versts. 

Dostoevsky  stayed  behind  alone  in  the  summer 
weather,  changeable  of  mood,  teaching  Marina,  work- 
ing, but  not  over-diligently,  and  keeping  up  a  lively 
correspondence  with  Maria  Dmitryevna;  his  letters 
to  her  were  as  thick  as  exercise-books. 

When,  before  my  departure,  I  saw  how  eagerly 
Dostoevsky  was  interesting  himself  in  the  girl,  who 
was  evidently  in  love  with  her  teacher,  I  began  to 
hope  that  intercourse  with  Marina  would  woo  him 
from  his  fatal  passion  for  Maria  Dmitryevna.  But 
when  I  came  back  from  my  trip,  I  heard  of  a  real 
tragedy. 

On  my  first  view  of  Marina  after  my  return,  I  was 
shocked  by  her  aspect;  she  was  hollow-eyed,  emaci- 
ated, and  shrunken.  And  Dostoevsky  told  me  that 
he  had  observed  this  alteration,  but  that  no  efforts 
had  enabled  him  to  learn  from  her  the  cause  of  such 
a  metamorphosis.  jNow,  however,  we  both  set  our- 
selves to  question  the  girl,  and  at  last  she  poured  out 
the  following  story: 

The  son  of  the  Mayor  of  Semipalatinsk,  a  youth  of 
eighteen,  had  long  had  an  eye  for  the  pretty  maiden ; 
by  the  intervention  of  my  housekeeper,  he  succeeded 
in  making  her  his  own;  the  scoundrel  stuck  to  her 
for  a  while,  and  then  deserted  her.  But  that  was  not 


294  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

the  worst.  The  boy's  coachman,  a  rascally  old  Cir- 
cassian, knew  of  these  relations;  he  had  often  gone 
for  the  girl  by  his  master's  orders,  to  drive  her  to  the 
rendezvous.  On  one  such  transit,  he  threatened  that 
he  would  tell  of  the  matter  to  her  father  and  step- 
mother if  she  did  not  yield  herself  to  him.  The 
terrified  Marina,  who  had  very  little  force  of  character, 
consented.  The  coachman  was  now  blackmailing 
her,  and  plundering  her  as  he  alone  could;  she  hated 
and  feared  him,  and  implored  us  to  save  her  from  the 
clutches  of  this  scoundrel. 

The  case  cried  to  Heaven.  I  made  use  of  my 
official  powers,  and  expelled  the  Circassian  from 
Semipalatinsk. 

A  year  later,  Marina  was  forced  to  marry,  against 
her  will,  a  boorish  old  Cossack  officer,  selected  for 
her  by  her  father.  She  hated  him,  and  flirted  as 
before  with  anyone  she  came  across.  The  old  man 
pestered  her  with  his  jealousy.  Later  on,  when 
Dostoevsky  was  married,  this  Marina  was  the  cause 
of  quarrels  and  scenes  of  jealousy  between  him  and 
Maria  Dmitryevna;  for  Marina  still  would  flirt  with 
him,  and  this  terribly  enraged  Maria  Dmitryevna, 
who  was  even  then  marked  for  death. 

When  I  returned  from  a  trip  to  Barnaul,  I  found 
Dostoevsky  still  more  broken-down,  emaciated,  and 
desperately  depressed.  He  always  got  a  little  more 
cheerful  in  my  company,  but  soon  he  was  to  lose 
heart  altogether,  for  I  had  to  tell  him  that  I  should 
be  compelled  to  leave  Semipalatinsk  for  ever. 

[Vrangel  left  Semipalatinsk  "  for  ever "  in  the 
New  Year  of  1855.] 

The  last  days  before  my  departure  went  by  very 
quickly.  By  the  end  of  December  I  was  ready  for  the 
road.  Dostoevsky  was  with  me  the  whole  day,  and 


VRANGEL  GOES  295 

helped  me  to  pack;  we  were  both  very  sad.    Involun- 
tarily I  asked  myself  if  I  should  ever  see  him  again. 

After  my  departure  he  wrote  me  a  succession  of 
moving,  affectionate  letters,  and  said  that  he  suffered 
frightfully  from  loneliness.  In  a  letter  of  December  21 
he  writes:  "  I  want  to  talk  with  you  as  we  used  to 
talk  when  you  were  everything  to  me — friend  and 
brother;  when  we  shared  every  thought  of  each 
other's  heart.  ..."  Our  parting  grieved  me  bitterly. 
I  was  young,  strong,  and  full  of  roseate  hopes ;  while 
he — great,  God-given  writer — was  losing  his  only 
friend,  and  had  to  stay  behind  as  a  common  soldier, 
sick,  forsaken,  desolate — in  Siberia  ! 

The  day  of  my  departure  arrived.  So  soon  as 
evening  fell,  Adam  carried  out  my  baggage;  Dosto- 
evsky  and  I  embraced  and  kissed,  and  promised 
never  to  forget  one  another.  As  at  our  first  meeting, 
both  our  eyes  were  wet.  I  took  my  seat  in  the 
carriage,  embraced  my  poor  friend  for  the  last  time, 
the  horses  started,  the  troika  glided  away.  I  took  a 
last  look  back;  Dostoevsky's  tragic  figure  was  scarcely 
to  be  discerned  in  the  failing  light. 

In  February  I  came  to  Petersburg.  And  now 
began  an  unbroken  correspondence  between  us.  His 
fate  was  not  even  yet  quite  decided.  I  knew  that 
there  would  be  a  general  amnesty  at  the  Coronation, 
but  how  far  this  would  affect  those  concerned  in  the 
Petrachevsky  affair  was  as  yet  uncertain.  Even  the 
highest  officials  of  the  police  could  give  me  no  in- 
formation. This  uncertainty  agitated  Dostoevsky 
terribly.  His  impatience  increased  from  hour  to 
hour.  He  would  not  see  that  I,  an  insignificant  little 
Siberian  lawyer,  could  not  possibly  have  any  influence 
on  the  course  of  events,  and  that  even  my  powerful 
relatives  could  do  nothing  to  expedite  his  case.  I  did 
not  want  to  pester  them  too  incessantly,  lest  I  should 


296  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

spoil  all.  But  in  his  nervous  excitement  Dostoevsky 
could  not  understand  that.  I  did  everything  that  I 
at  all  could ;  but  Count  Totleben  was  the  most  urgent 
of  any  in  his  cause. 

I  had  known  Count  Eduard  Ivanovitch  Totleben 
from  my  school-days ;  and  had  often  met  him  at  the 
house  of  my  great-uncle  Manderstyerna,  then  Com- 
mandant of  the  Petropaulovsky  Fortress.  He  had 
attended  the  College  of  Engineering  at  the  same  time 
as  Dostoevsky,  and  his  brother  Adolf  had  even  been 
intimate  with  the  latter.  Directly  I  arrived  in 
Petersburg  I  looked  up  Totleben,  told  him  of 
Dostoevsky's  insupportable  lot,  and  begged  for  his 
support.  I  visited  his  brother  Adolf  also.  Both 
showed  warm  sympathy  for  Dostoevsky,  and  promised 
me  to  do  all  they  could.  The  name  of  Totleben  was 
then  in  everyone's  mouth,  not  only  in  Russia,  but  over 
all  Europe.  As  a  private  individual,  he  was  unusually 
attractive.  The  high  honours  with  which  he  had 
been  overwhelmed,  had  altered  his  character  in  no 
wise.  He  was  still  the  same  friendly,  good-humoured, 
and  humane  person  as  when  I  had  known  him  before 
the  war.  He  did  much  for  Dostoevsky  by  his 
intercession  with  Prince  Orlov  and  other  powerful 
men  in  Petersburg. 

Dostoevsky  esteemed  Totleben  very  highly,  and 
was  much  moved  by  his  sympathy.  In  his  letter  to 
me  of  March  23,  1856,  he  writes:  "He  is  through 
and  through  of  knightly,  noble,  and  generous  nature. 
You  can't  at  all  imagine  with  what  joy  I  am  follow- 
ing all  that  such  splendid  fellows  as  you  and  the 
Totleben  brothers  are  doing  for  me." 

But  the  greatest  influence  on  Dostoevsky's  fate 
was  that  of  Prince  Peter  von  Oldenburg.  He  had 
known  me  since  my  school-days.  He  was  Proctor  of 
the  school,  and  came  there  nearly  every  day.  And 


INFLUENCE  AT  WORK  297 

now,  therefore,  I  was  called  upon  again  to  turn  to 
Adolf  Henselt.  I  delivered  to  the  Prince,  through 
Henselt,  the  new  poem  that  Dostoevsky  had  written 
on  the  Coronation.  He  mentions  this  poem  in  his 
letter  to  me  of  May  23,  1856 : 

"  It  would  be,  I  think,  clumsy  to  try  unofficially 
for  permission  to  publish  my  works,  unless  I  offer  a 
poem  at  the  same  time.  Read  the  enclosed,  then; 
paraphrase  it,  and  try  to  bring  it  under  the  monarch's 
notice  in  some  way  or  other." 

I  did  all  I  could.  The  Prince  gave  the  poem  to 
the  Tsarina  Maria  Alexandrovna;  whether  it  ever 
reached  the  Tsar's  hands,  I  know  not. 

At  the  same  time  Dostoevsky  informed  me  that  he 
was  going  to  send  me  an  article,  "  Letters  upon  Art," 
that  I  might  deliver  it  to  the  President  of  the 
Academy,  the  Grand-Duchess  Maria  Nikolayevna.1 

I  never  received  that  article. 

In  the  same  letter  he  writes  of  another  article, 
which  he  had  begun  while  we  were  still  together — 
one  "  On  Russia."  z  I  never  received  that  one,  either. 

All  Dostoevsky's  thoughts  were  now  set  on  one 
thing — whether,  in  case  of  his  pardon,  he  would  be 
permitted  to  publish  his  works.  Not  only  his  passion 
for  literary  activity,  but  also  his  great  need,  obliged 
him  to  strive  for  recognition  in  the  highest  quarters. 
He  then  required  much  money,  and  had  none  at  all. 
He  had  numerous  debts,  and  only  that  one  hope — of 
earning  something  by  means  of  the  many  stories  and 
novels  with  which  his  brain  was  always  filled. 

In  January,  1860,  Dostoevsky  at  last  got  permission 
to  settle  in  Petersburg.  As  the  climate  there  was 
harmful  to  his  wife's  health,  he  left  her  behind  in 
Moscow,  and  came  alone  to  Petersburg.  He  took 
rooms  in  Gorochovoya  Street.  We  saw  one  another 
i  See  p.  93.  »  See  p.  93. 


298  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

very  often,  but  only  in  flying  visits,  for  we  were  both 
carried  away  by  the  whirl  of  Petersburg  life.  More- 
over, I  was  then  engaged  to  be  married,  and  spent  all 
my  free  time  with  my  betrothed,  while  Dostoevsky 
was  working  day  and  night.  So  our  short  interviews 
were  chiefly  taken  up  with  loving  memories  of  the  past. 
On  one  of  our  meetings  we  spoke  of  a  forthcoming 
public  event  in  Petersburg.  I  intended  to  make  a 
speech  "  upon  the  liberties  and  rights  accorded  by 
the  Tsarina  Catherine  II.  to  the  Russian  nobility." 
Dostoevsky  instantly  sketched  a  brilliant  discourse 
for  me;  but  at  the  meeting  I  controlled  myself,  and 
did  not  deliver  it.1 

I  was  once  present  at  a  public  reading  by  Dosto- 
evsky. He  read  Gogol's  "  Revisor."  I  already  knew 
his  masterly  art  in  delivery.  The  room  was  packed. 
Dostoevsky's  appearance  and  his  reading  were  greeted 
with  thunders  of  applause.  But  I  was  not  satisfied 
with  his  performance  that  evening;  I  saw  that  he 
was  not  in  the  right  mood;  his  voice  sounded  dead, 
and  was  sometimes  barely  audible.  After  the  read- 
ing, he  sought  me  out  among  the  audience,  and  told 
me  that  he  had  not  been  in  the  mood;  but  that  the 
organizer  of  the  evening  had  urged  him  not  to 
abandon  the  reading,  and  he  never  could  say  "  No  " 
to  anyone.  If  I  am  not  mistaken,  that  was  his  first 
reading  after  his  return  from  banishment. 

When  in  1865  I  returned  to  Copenhagen  from  my 
summer  leave,  I  found  a  despairing  letter  of  Dos- 
toevsky's from  Wiesbaden.  He  wrote  that  he  had 
gambled  away  all  his  money,  and  was  in  a  desperate 
situation — he  had  not  a  penny  left,  and  creditors  were 
pressing  him  on  every  side.  This  craze  of  Dos- 
toevsky's for  play  was  somewhat  surprising  to  me. 

1  Some  "  emancipated  "  speeches  were  made  on  this  occa- 
sion, for  which  the  orators  were  afterwards  punished. 


DOSTOEVSKY,    MOSCOW,    1863. 


THE  FIRST  MARRIAGE  299 

In  Siberia,  where  card-playing  is  so  universal,  he  had 
never  touched  a  card.  Probably  his  passionate  nature 
and  shattered  nerves  needed  the  violent  emotions 
which  gambling  afforded  him.  At  all  events,  now 
I  had  to  help  my  old  friend  out  of  his  fix;  I  sent 
him  some  money,  though  I  had  not  a  great  deal 
myself.  With  it  I  wrote,  and  said  that  he  must 
positively  come  to  me  at  Copenhagen. 

He  did  actually  come  to  Copenhagen  on  October  i, 
and  stayed  a  week  with  me.  He  extraordinarily 
pleased  my  wife,  and  was  much  devoted  to  the  two 
children.  I  thought  him  thin  and  altered.  Our 
meeting  gave  us  both  great  joy;  we  refreshed  old 
memories,  of  course,  recalled  the  "  Kasakov  Gardens," 
our  love  affairs,  etc.  We  spoke  much  of  his  first 
wife,  Maria  Dmitryevna,  and  of  the  fair  Marina,  of 
whom  she  had  been  so  terribly  jealous. 

In  this  intimate  talk  we  touched  almost  inevitably 
on  his  family-life,  and  the  strange  relation  (to  this 
day  a  mystery  for  me)  between  him  and  his  first  wife. 
In  one  of  his  earlier  letters,  he  wrote  to  me:  "We 
were  both  thoroughly  unhappy,  but  could  not  cease 
from  loving  one  another;  the  more  wretched  we 
were,  the  more  we  clung  together."  At  the  meeting 
in  Copenhagen  he  confirmed  that  saying.  I  had 
never  believed  that  Dostoevsky  would  find  happiness 
in  that  marriage.  Every  kind  of  torment — the  whole 
grievous  burden  that  he  fastened  on  himself  by  that 
connection — robbed  him  of  all  peace  of  mind  for  long 
and  long.  ...  At  Semipalatinsk  I  had  often  tried 
to  reason  him  out  of  his  morbid  passion  for  Maria 
Dmitryevna,  but  he  would  listen  to  nothing.  Maria 
Dmitryevna  was  invested  with  a  radiant  halo  in  his 
eyes. 

Among  other  things,  he  expounded  his  views  on 
women  in  general,  and  gave  me  corresponding  advice. 


300     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

Once,  in  talking  of  our  Siberian  acquaintances,  1 
mentioned  a  frivolous  and  insidious  lady  of  Semi- 
palatinsk;  Dostoevsky  thereupon  remarked:  "We 
should  be  eternally  grateful  to  a  woman  whom  we 
have  loved,  for  every  day  and  hour  of  joy  which  she 
has  given  us.  We  may  not  demand  from  her  that 
she  think  of  us  only  all  her  life  long;  that  is  ugly 
egoism,  which  we  should  subdue  in  ourselves." 

As  I  have  said,  Dostoevsky  looked  very  ill  during 
his  stay  at  Copenhagen;  before  that,  he  had  com- 
plained in  his  letters  of  his  state  of  health:  "  Besides 
the  epilepsy,  I  am  a  martyr  to  violent  fever;  every 
night  I  have  shivering  fits  and  fever,  and  lose  ground 
day  by  day." 

Even  a  perfectly  sound  man  could  not  have  borne 
the  harassed  life  that  Dostoevsky  was  then  leading  ! 
Eternally  in  want  of  money,  anxious  not  only  for  his 
own  family,  but  also  for  that  of  his  brother  Michael, 
pursued  by  creditors,  in  constant  fear  of  being  clapped 
in  prison,  he  knew  no  rest  day  nor  night ;  by  day  he 
was  running  from  one  newspaper-office  to  the  other, 
and  by  night  he  was  writing,  as  he  said  himself,  "  to 
order,  under  the  lash."  Naturally  all  that  was  bound 
to  have  a  hurtful  effect  on  his  health  as  well  as  his 
character. 

He  told  me  of  one  incident,  among  others,  which 
will  show  how  nervous  and  irritable  he  sometimes 
was.  When  in  Paris,  it  had  occurred  to  him  to  pay 
a  visit  to  Rome.  To  do  this,  he  had  to  have  his 
passport  signed  by  the  Papal  Nuncio  in  Paris.  Dosto- 
evsky went  twice  to  the  Nuncio's,  but  on  neither 
occasion  found  him.  When  he  went  for  the  third 
time,  he  was  received  by  a  young  abbe",  who  asked 
him  to  wait  a  while,  as  Monsignor  was  just  breakfast- 
ing, and  would  take  his  coffee  first.  Dostoevsky 
leaped  up  as  though  gone  suddenly  crazy,  and  cried: 


A  SCENE  AT  THE  NUNCIO'S  301 

"  Dites  d  votre  Monseigneur,  que  je  crache  dans  son 
cajk — qu'il  me  signe  mon  passeport,  ouje  me  pr&cipiterai 
chez  lui  avec  scandale  t"  The  young  abbe"  stared  at 
him  in  consternation ;  he  rushed  into  his  chief's  apart- 
ment, came  back  with  another  abbe,  and  requested 
our  Fyodor  Michailovitch  to  clear  out  at  once,  and 
let  the  porter  of  his  hotel  come  and  see  about  the 
passport. 

"  Yes — I  was  too  hot-tempered  that  time  !"  con- 
cluded DostoevsTTy,  with  a  shy  smile.  But  evidently 
this  irritability  long  endured;  for  in  one  of  his  later 
letters  he  writes:  "  I  have  become  frightfully  nervous 
and  irritable;  my  character  gets  worse  every  day, 
and  I  can't  imagine  what  it  will  end  in." l 

1  He  used  the  incident  at  the  Nuncio's  in  his  book,  "  The 
Gambler." 


FROM  THE   REMINISCENCES   OF 
SOPHIE  KOVALEVSKYi 

1866 

ANYUTA  was  so  delighted  by  her  first  literary  success 
that  she  at  once  began  another  story.  The  hero  of  this 
tale  was  a  young  man  who  had  been  brought  up  far 
away  from  home  in  a  monastery  by  his  uncle,  a  monk. 
The  hero,  whose  name  was  Michael,  had  some  re- 
semblance to  Alyosha  in  the  "  Brothers  Karamazov." 
When  I  read  that  novel,  some  years  afterwards,  I  was 
instantly  struck  by  the  resemblance;  I  spoke  of  it  to 
Dostoevsky,  whom  I  very  often  met  at^that  time. 

"  I  believe  you  are  right  !"  said  he,  striking  his 
forehead.  "  But  I  give  you  my  word  of  honour  that 
I  never  once  thought  of  this  Michael,  when  I  created 
my  Alyosha.  .  .  .  Perhaps  he  was  unconsciously  in 
my  memory,"  he  added,  after  a  pause. 

When  this  second  story  of  Anyuta's  appeared  in 
print,  the  catastrophe  arrived ;  a  letter  of  Dostoevsky 's 
fell  into  my  father's  hands,  and  there  was  a  great  fuss. 
We  had  hardly  returned  to  Petersburg  from  the 
country  before  Anyuta  wrote  to  Dostoevsky  asking 

1  Sophie  Kovalevsky,  the  renowned  mathematician,  tells 
of  the  intercourse  of  Dostoevsky  with  her  elder  sister,  Anna 
Korvin-Kovalesvky,  who  had  sent  him  her  earliest  literary 
effort  without  her  parents'  knowledge.  Later,  not  without 
opposition  from  her  parents,  she  made  his  acquaintance. 
Sophie,  who  at  that  time  was  little  more  than  a  child,  fell  in 
love  with  Dostoevsky.  This  episode  belongs  to  the  year 
1866. 

302 


UNCOMFORTABLE  INTERVIEW        303 

him  to  call.  And  he  came — on  the  very  day  she 
fixed.  I  can  still  remember  with  what  feverish  im- 
patience we  awaited  his  arrival,  and  how,  for  a  whole 
hour  before  he  could  be  expected,  we  jumped  at 
every  tingle  of  the  bell.  But  this  first  visit  of 
Bostoevsky's  was  a  complete  failure. 

Our  father  had  a  great  prejudice  against  ail  literary 
men.  It  is  true  that  he  allowed  my  sister  to  make 
acquaintance  with  Dostoevsky,  but  it  was  not  with- 
out secret  anxiety.  When  we  were  going  back  to 
town  (he  stayed  in  the  country),  he  said,  on  parting, 
to  my  mother: 

"  Do  reflect,  Lisa,  on  the  great  responsibility  you 
are  undertaking.  Dostoevsky  does  not  belong  to  our 
circles.  What  do  we  know  of  him,  after  all  ?  Only 
that  he  is  a  journalist,  and  has  been  in  prison.  A 
nice  recommendation  !  We  shall  have  to  be  very 
cautious  about  him." 

Father  especially  enjoined  on  mother  that  she 
should  never  leave  Anyuta  a  moment  alone  with 
Dostoevsky.  I  begged  for  permission  to  be  present 
at  this  first  meeting.  Our  two  old  German  aunts 
came  into  the  room  every  minute  on  one  pretext  or 
another,  and  stared  at  our  guest  as  if  he  were  some 
strange  animal;  finally  they  both  sat  down  on  the 
sofa  and  stayed  there  till  he  went. 

Anyuta  was  furious  that  her  first  meeting  with 
Dostoevsky,  on  which  she  had  set  such  high  hopes, 
should  be  taking  place  in  such  circumstances;  she 
looked  cross,  and  would  not  speak.  Dostoevsky  too 
was  very  uncomfortable  in  the  presence  of  the  two 
old  ladies.  It  was  clear  that  he  was  sharply  annoyed. 
He  looked  ill  and  old  that  day,  as  he  always  did  when 
he  was  in  a  bad  temper.  He  pulled  nervously  at  his 
short  blonde  beard,  bit  his  moustache,  and  made 
dreadful  faces. 


304     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

Mama  did  her  very  best  to  get  up  an  interesting 
conversation.  With  the  friendliest  conventional  smile 
on  her  lips,  but  evidently  in  the  greatest  perplexity, 
she  tried  to  say  all  sorts  of  pleasant  and  flattering 
things  to  him,  and  to  ask  him  intelligent  questions. 

Dostoevsky  answered  monosyllabically  and  dis- 
courteously. At  last  Mama  was  au  bout  de  ses 
ressources,  and  said  no  more.  Dostoevsky  sat  with  us 
half-an-hour ;  then  he  took  his  hat,  bowed  hastily 
and  awkwardly  to  us  all,  but  shook  hands  with  none 
of  us — and  went. 

As  soon  as  he  was  gone,  Anyuta  ran  to  her  room, 
threw  herself  on  the  bed,  and  began  to  cry.  "  You 
always  spoil  everything  !"  she  said,  over  and  over 
again. 

Yet,  some  days  later,  Dostoevsky  reappeared,  and 
his  visit  this  time  was  very  opportune,  for  Mama  and 
the  aunts  were  out,  and  only  my  sister  and  I  at  home. 
He  thawed  at  once.  He  took  Anyuta  by  the  hand, 
sat  down  beside  her  on  the  divan  and  instantly  they 
began  to  talk  as  if  they  were  two  old  friends.  The 
conversation  did  not,  as  on  his  first  visit,  drag  itself 
with  difficulty  from  one  uninteresting  theme  to 
another.  Anyuta  and  he  had  to  make  the  best  use 
of  their  time,  and  say  as  much  as  they  possibly  could 
to  one  another,  so  on  they  gabbled,  joked,  and 
laughed. 

I  was  sitting  in  the  same  room,  but  taking  no  part 
in  their  conversation;  I  stared  unwinkingly  at  Dos- 
toevsky, and  devoured  every  single  word  he  said. 
This  time  he  looked  different  from  what  he  had  at 
his  first  visit — young,  frank,  clever,  and  attractive. 
"  Can  he  really  be  forty-three  years  old  ?"  thought  I. 
"  Can  he  really  be  three-and-a-half  times  as  old  as 
I  am,  and  twice  as  old  as  Anyuta  ?  They  say  he's  a 
great  writer,  and  yet  one  can  talk  to  him  like  a 


A  SECOND  VISIT  305 

chum  !"  And  all  at  once  he  seemed  to  me  such 
a  dear.  Three  hours  went  by  in  no  time.  Suddenly 
there  was  a  noise  in  the  ante-room :  Mama  had  come 
back  from  town.  She  did  not  know  that  Dostoevsky 
was  there,  and  came  in  with  her  hat  on,  laden  with 
parcels. 

When  she  saw  Dostoevsky  with  us,  she  was  sur- 
prised and  a  little  alarmed.  "  What  would  my 
husband  say  ?"  was  probably  her  first  thought.  We 
rushed  to  meet  her,  and  when  she  saw  we  were  in 
such  high  spirits,  she  thawed  in  her  turn,  and  asked 
Dostoevsky  to  stay  for  lunch. 

From  that  day  forward  he  came  to  our  house  as  a 
friend.     As  our  stay  in  Petersburg  was  not  to  be 
"Very  long,  he  came  frequently,  say  three  or  four  times 
in  the  week. 

It  was  particularly  agreeable  when  he  came  on 
evenings  when  we  had  no  other  visitors.  On  such 
occasions  he  was  remarkably  vivacious  and  interesting. 
Fyodor  Michailovitch  did  not  like  general  conversa- 
tion; he  could  only  talk  as  a  monologuist,  and  even 
then  only  when  all  those  present  were  sympathetic 
to  him,  and  prepared  to  listen  with  eager  attention. 
When  this  condition  was  fulfilled,  he  talked  most 
beautifully — eloquent  and  convincing  as  no  one  else 
could  be. 

Often  he  told  us  the  story  of  the  novels  he  was 
planning,  often  episodes  and  scenes  of  his  own  life. 
I  can  still  remember  clearly  how,  for  example,  he 
described  the  moment  when  he,  condemned  to  death, 
stood  with  eyes  blindfolded  before  the  company  of 
soldiers,  and  waited  for  the  word  "  Fire  !"  and  how 
instead  there  came  the  beating  of  drums,  and  they 
heard  that  they  were  pardoned. 

Dostoevsky  was  often  very  realistic  in  his  conversa- 
tion, and  quite  forgot  that  young  girls  were  listening, 


306     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

I  suppose.  Our  mother  used  sometimes  to  be  terrified. 
In  this  way  he  once  told  us  a  scene  out  of  a  novel  he 
had  planned  in  his  youth.  The  hero  was  a  landed 
proprietor  of  middle  age,  highly  educated  and  refined ; 
he  often  went  abroad,  read  deep  books,  and  bought 
pictures  and  engravings.  In  his  youth  he  had  been 
very  wild  indeed,  but  had  grown  more  staid  with 
years;  by  this  time  he  had  a  wife  and  children,  and 
was  universally  respected.  Well,  one  morning  he 
wakes  very  early;  the  sun  is  shining  into  his  bed- 
room; everything  about  him  is  very  dainty,  pretty, 
and  comfortable.  He  is  penetrated  with  a  sense  of 
well-being.  Thorough  sybarite  that  he  is,  he  takes 
care  not  to  awake  completely,  so  as  not  to  destroy 
this  delightful  state  of  almost  vegetable  felicity.  On 
the  boundary  between  sleep  and  waking,  he  enjoys  in 
spirit  a  series  of  agreeable  impressions  from  his  latest 
trip  abroad.  He  thinks  of  the  wonderful  light  on  the 
naked  shoulders  of  a  St.  Cecilia  in  one  of  the  galleries. 
Then  some  fine  passages  from  a  book  called  "  Of  the 
Beauty  and  Harmony  of  the  Universe  "  come  into 
his  mind.  But  in  the  midst  of  these  pleasant  dreams 
and  sensations  he  suddenly  becomes  aware  of  a 
peculiar  feeling  of  discomfort,  such  as  that  from  an 
internal  ache  or  a  mysterious  disturbance.  Very 
much  like  what  a  man  experiences  who  has  an  old 
wound,  from  which  the  bullet  has  not  been  extracted ; 
in  the  same  way,  he  has  been  feeling  perfectly  at  ease 
when  suddenly  the  old  wound  begins  to  smart.  And 
now  our  landed  proprietor  speculates  on  what  this 
may  portend.  He  has  no  ailment,  he  knows  of  no 
trouble,  yet  here  he  is,  utterly  wretched.  But  there 
must  be  something  to  account  for  it,  and  he  urges 
his  consciousness  to  the  utmost.  .  .  .  And  suddenly 
it  does  come  to  him,  and  he  experiences  it  all  as 
vividly,  as  tangibly — and  with  what  horror  in  every 


DOSTOEVSKY  IN  SOCIETY  307 

atom  of  his  being  ! — as  if  it  had  happened  yesterday 
instead  of  twenty  years  ago.  Yet  for  all  that  twenty 
years  it  has  not  troubled  him. 

What  he  remembers  is  how  once,  after  a  night  of 
debauchery,  egged  on  by  drunken  companions,  he 
had  forced  a  little  girl  of  ten  years  old. 

When  Dostoevsky  uttered  those  words,  my  mother 
flung  her  hands  above  her  head,  and  cried  out  in 
terror:  "  Fyodor  Michailovitch  !  For  pity's  sake! 
The  children  are  listening  !" 

At  that  time  I  had  no  idea  what  Dostoevsky  was 
talking  about,  but  from  my  mother's  horror  I  con- 
cluded that  it  must  be  something  frightful. 

Mama  and  Dostoevsky  became  good  friends,  all  the 
same.  She  was  very  fond  of  him,  though  he  gave 
her  much  to  bear. 

Before  we  left  Petersburg  Mama  decided  to  have 
a  farewell  evening-party,  and  invite  all  our  acquaint- 
ances. Of  course,  Dostoevsky  was  asked.  At  first 
he  refused,  but  unluckily  Mama  succeeded  in  per- 
suading him  to  come. 

The  evening  was  unusually  dull.  The  guests  took 
not  the  slightest  interest  in  one  another;  but  as  well- 
bred  people,  for  whom  such  dull  evenings  form  an 
essential  part  of  existence,  they  bore  their  tedium 
stoically. 

One  can  easily  divine  how  poor  Dostoevsky  felt  in 
such  company  !  In  his  personality  and  appearance 
he  was  frightfully  alien  to  everybody  else.  He  had 
gone  so  far  in  self-immolation  as  to  put  on  a  dress- 
coat;  and  this  dress-coat,  which  fitted  very  badly 
and  made  him  uncomfortable,  ruined  his  temper  for 
the  whole  evening.  Like  all  neurotic  people,  he  was 
very  shy  in  the  company  of  strangers,  and  it  was 
clear  that  his  ill-temper  was  to  be  displayed  on  the 
earliest  possible  opportunity. 


308  RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

My  mother  hastened  to  present  him  to  the  other 
guests;  instead  of  a  courteous  acknowledgment,  he 
muttered  something  inarticulate,  and  turned  his  back 
at  once.  But  the  worst  was  that  he  monopolized 
Anyuta  from  the  very  beginning.  He  withdrew 
with  her  into  a  corner  of  the  room,  plainly  intending  to 
keep  her  there  all  the  time.  That  was,  of  course,  con- 
trary to  all  etiquette;  and  he  behaved  to  her,  more- 
over, with  anything  but  drawing-room  manners — 
holding  her  hand  and  whispering  in  her  ear.  Anyuta 
was  much  embarrassed,  and  Mama  was  vexed  to 
death.  At  first  she  tried  to  convey  to  him  delicately 
how  unsuitable  his  conduct  was.  She  passed  the 
couple  as  if  by  chance,  and  called  my  sister,  as  if  to 
send  her  into  the  other  room  on  some  message. 
Anyuta  tried  to  get  up  and  go,  but  Dostoevsky  coolly 
held  her  back,  and  said:  "No,  wait — I  haven't 
finished  yet."  But  with  that  my  mother's  patience 
came  to  an  end. 

"  Excuse  me,  Fyodor  Michailo vitch ;  she  must,  as 
daughter  of  the  house,  attend  to  the  other  guests," 
said  she  indignantly,  leading  my  sister  away  with  her. 

Dostoevsky  was  furious;  he  stayed  silently  sitting 
in  his  corner,  and  casting  malignant  looks  on  every 
side. 

Among  the  guests  was  one  who  displeased  him 
extraordinarily  from  the  first  moment.  This  was  a 
distant  relative  of  ours,  a  young  German,  an  officer 
in  one  of  the  Guards'  regiments. 

Handsome,  tall,  and  self-satisfied,  this  personage 
excited  his  hostility.  The  young  man  was  sitting, 
effectively  posed,  in  a  comfortable  chair,  and  display- 
ing his  slender  ankles,  clad  in  close-fitting  silk  socks. 
He  bent  gaily  towards  my  sister,  and  evidently  said 
something  very  funny  to  her.  Anyuta,  who  had  not 
yet  recovered  from  the  scene  between  Dostoevsky  and 


HE  BREAKS  OUT  309 

my  mother,  heard  him  with  a  somewhat  stereotyped 
smile — "  the  smile  of  a  gentle  angel,"  as  our  English 
governess  laughingly  described  it. 

As  Dostoevsky  watched  the  pair,  a  veritable 
romance  formed  itself  in  his  brain:  Anyuta  hates 
and  scorns  the  German,  self-satisfied  fop  that  he  is, 
but  her  parents  mean  to  marry  her  to  him.  The 
whole  party  has  of  course  been  got  up  to  this  end 
alone  ! 

He  believed  at  once  in  this  hypothesis,  and  got 
into  a  fury.  That  winter,  people  were  talking  much 
of  a  book  by  an  English  clergyman:  "Parallels 
between  Protestantism  and  [Greek]  Orthodoxy." 
In  our  Russo-German  circle  it  was  exciting  great 
interest,  and  the  conversation  grew  more  animated  as 
soon  as  this  book  was  mentioned.  Mama,  who  was 
herself  a  Protestant,  remarked  that  Protestantism 
had  one  advantage  over  Orthodoxy,  and  that  was  that 
Protestants  were  more  conversant  with  the  Bible. 

"  And  was  the  Bible  written  for  fashionable  ladies  ?" 
Dostoevsky  suddenly  broke  out,  having  sat  stubbornly 
silent  till  now.  "  For  in  the  Bible  it  is  written,  among 
other  things:  '  And  God  made  them  male  and  female.' 
And  again :  '  Therefore  shall  a  woman  forsake  her 
father  and  mother,  and  shall  cleave  unto  her  husband.' 
That  was  Christ's  conception  of  marriage  !  What 
have  our  mothers  to  say  to  it,  they  who  think  only 
of  how  they  may  get  rid  of  their  daughters  to  the  best 
advantage?  " 

Dostoevsky  said  these  words  with  uncommon 
pathos.  The  effect  was  stupendous.  All  our  well- 
bred  Germans  were  confounded,  and  stared  with  all 
their  eyes.  Not  for  some  moments  did  they  realize 
how  unsuitable  Dostoevsky's  speech  had  been,  and 
then  they  all  began  to  talk  at  once,  so  as  to  obliterate 
the  unfortunate  impression. 


3io     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

Dostoevsky  cast  another  malignant  look  on  all, 
retired  to  his  corner,  and  spoke  not  a  word  for  the 
rest  of  the  evening. 

When  he  came  next  day,  Mama  tried  by  a  cool 
reception  to  give  him  to  understand  that  she  felt  her- 
self to  be  offended.  But  in  her  great  good-nature  she 
never  could  long  be  angry  with  anyone,  and  so  they 
soon  became  friends  again. 

But,  on  the  other  hand,  the  relations  between 
Dostoevsky  and  Anyuta  were  completely  altered 
from  that  evening.  He  lost  all  influence  over  her,  at 
that  one  blow;  she  now  continually  took  it  into 
her  head  to  contradict  and  tease  him.  He  showed, 
on  his  side,  great  irritation  and  intolerance;  he 
would  demand  an  account  from  her  of  every  day 
on  which  he  had  not  been  with  us,  and  displayed 
much  hostility  to  everybody  whom  she  at  all  liked. 
He  did  not  visit  us  less  frequently,  indeed  he  came 
oftener  even  than  before,  and  stayed  longer  every 
time,  though  he  never  ceased  quarrelling  with  my 
sister  during  his  whole  visit. 

In  the  beginning  of  their  intimacy,  Anyuta  used 
to  refuse  many  invitations  and  gaieties  if  she  knew 
Dostoevsky  was  coming  on  those  days.  Now  that, 
too,  was  quite  changed.  When  he  came  to  us  on  an 
evening  when  we  had  other  visitors,  Anyuta  calmly 
devoted  herself  to  the  other  guests.  And  if  she  were 
invited  anywhere  on  one  of  "  his  "  evenings,  she 
would  write  and  put  him  off. 

The  next  day,  Dostoevsky  was  always  in  a  bad 
temper.  Anyuta  would  pretend  not  to  notice,  and 
take  a  piece  of  sewing.  This  would  make  him  worse  ; 
he  would  go  into  a  corner  and  sit  silent.  My  sister 
would  say  nothing  either. 

"  Do  stop  sewing  !"  says  Dostoevsky  at  last,  and 
takes  her  work  away  from  her. 


AN  ODD  COURTSHIP  311 

My  sister  crosses  her  arms  on  her  breast,  and  says 
not  a  word. 

"Where  were  you  last  night  ?"  asks  Dostoevsky 
crossly. 

'  At  a  ball,"  says  my  sister  carelessly. 

'  And  did  you  dance  ?" 

'  Naturally." 

'  With  your  cousin  ?" 
With  him  and  others." 

And  that   amuses   you  ?"   Dostoevsky   further 
inquires. 

Anyuta  shrugs. 

"  For  want  of  anything  better,  it  does,"  she 
answers,  and  begins  to  sew  again. 

Dostoevsky  regards  her  in  silence  for  some 
moments. 

"  You  are  a  shallow,  silly  creature,"  he  suddenly 
declares. 

That  was  the  tone  of  most  of  their  conversations. 
They  had  their  bitterest  quarrels  when  the  subject  of 
Nihilism  came  up.  The  debates  on  this  theme  would 
often  last  till  late  into  the  night;  and  each  would 
express  far  extremer  views  than  either  held. 

"  The  whole  younger  generation  is  stupid  and  un- 
cultured !"  Dostoevsky  was  wont  to  say.  "  A  pair  of 
country  boots  is  more  precious  to  them  than  the  whole 
of  Pushkin." 

"  Pushkin  is  out-of-date,"  my  sister  would  calmly 
maintain.  She  knew  that  nothing  put  him  out  so 
thoroughly  as  a  disrespectful  remark  about  Pushkin. 

Dostoevsky  would  often  spring  up  in  a  rage,  seize 
his  hat,  and  depart  with  a  solemn  asseveration  that  he 
did  not  want  to  have  anything  more  to  do  with  a 
Nihilist,  and  would  never  again  cross  our  threshold. 
But  next  evening  he  would  come  again,  as  if  nothing 
had  happened. 


312     RECOLLECTIONS  OF  DOSTOEVSKY 

The  more  strained  became  the  relations  between 
Dostoevsky  and  my  sister,  the  more  friendly  did  I 
grow  with  him.  I  was  more  fascinated  by  him  every 
day,  and  more  subject  to  his  influence.  Of  course  he 
could  see  how  I  adored  him,  and  he  evidently  liked 
it.  He  often  Fold  my  sister  that  she  should  take 
example  by  me. 

When  Dostoevsky  uttered  some  profound  idea  or 
some  clever  paradox,  my  sister  frequently  chose  to 
pretend  that  she  did  not  understand  him ;  I  would  be 
quite  carried  away,  while  she,  to  torment  him,  would 
make  some  insipid  rejoinder. 

"  You  are  a  poor,  insignificant  thing  !"  Dostoevsky 
would  then  exclaim.  "  How  different  your  sister  is  ! 
She  is  still  a  child,  but  how  wonderfully  she  under- 
stands me  !  Hers  is  a  delicate,  sensitive  soul !" 

I  would  get  crimson  all  over  with  delight ;  I  would 
gladly  have  let  myself  be  cut  in  pieces  to  show  how 
well  I  understood  him.  In  the  depths  of  my  soul 
I  was  well  pleased  with  this  change  in  the  relation  of 
Dostoevsky  to  my  sister;  but  I  was  ashamed  of  the 
feeling.  I  accused  myself  of  treachery  to  my  sister, 
and  took  great  pains  to  make  up  for  my  secret  sin  by 
being  very  nice  to  her.  But  despite  all  pangs  of  con- 
science, I  was  always  glad  of  every  fresh  quarrel 
between  Dostoevsky  and  Anyuta.  He  called  me 
his  friend,  and  I,  in  my  simplicity,  believed  that 
I  was  really  dearer  to  him  than  my  sister,  and  under- 
stood him  better.  Even  my  looks  he  praised  to  the 
detriment  of  hers. 

[Finally  Dostoevsky  made  a  proposal  of  marriage 
to  the  elder  sister,  but  it  was  not  accepted.] 

Dostoevsky  came  once  more,  to  take  leave.  He 
stayed  only  a  short  time,  but  was  simple  and  friendly 
in  his  manner  to  Anyuta;  they  promised  to  write  to 


IN  LOVE  313 

one  another.  He  said  good-bye  to  me  very  tenderly. 
He  even  kissed  me,  but  had  no  idea,  I  am  sure,  of  the 
feelings  that  he  had  awakened  in  me. 

After  about  six  months,  Dostoevsky  wrote  to  my 
sister  to  say  that  he  had  learned  to  know  and  love 
a  wonderful  girl,  who  had  consented  to  marry  him. 
This  girl,  Anna  Grigorevna  Snitkin,  became  later  his 
second  wife.  "My  word  of  honour:  if  anyone  had 
prophesied  this  to  me  half  a  year  ago,  I  should  not 
have  believed  it !"  remarks  Dostoevsky  naively  at 
the  end  of  this  letter. 


Dostoevsky  in  the  Judgment  of 
his  Contemporaries 


R.  P.  Pobyedonoszev1  to  I.  S.  Aksakov 

"  January  30,  1881. 

'  MY  DEAR  FRIEND  IVAN  SERGEYEVITCH  ! 

"  When  you  wrote  to  me  that  you  felt  so  sick 
at  heart,  you  as  yet  knew  nothing  of  Dostoevsky's 
death.  But  I  stand  by  his  bier,  and  my  heart  is 
doubly  sick.  I  knew  this  man  well.  I  had  reserved 
for  him  my  Saturday  evenings,  and  he  often  came  to 
talk  alone  with  me.  I  even  furnished  him  with  many 
hints  for  his  '  Zosima  ' ; 2  we  talked  of  that  often  and 
intimately.  The  time  when  he  was  editing  Grajdanin 
was  that  of  our  intimacy.  I  pitied  him  in  his  desperate 
state,  and  worked  together  with  him  through  a  whole 
summer;  in  such  a  way  we  quickly  made  friends.  In 
these  times,  he  was  the  very  man  for  our  cause.  He 
cannot  be  replaced,  for  he  stood  entirely  alone.  .  .  ." 

1  Pobyedonoszev,  the  famous  Head  Procurator  of  the  Holy 
Synod,   had  a  great  influence  on  the  conservative  side  in 
Russian  politics  of  the  years  from  1881  to  1904.     His  corre- 
spondence with  the  Slavophil,  Ivan  Aksakov,  is  from  the  point 
of  view  of  both  very  remarkable;  they  saw  in  Dostoevsky 
their  companion  in  battle  against  the  reforms  and  revolu- 
tionary tendencies  of  the  'eighties. 

2  In  "  The  Brothers  Karamazov." 


TURGENEV  SPEAKS  315 

II 

/.  S.  Aksakov  to  R.  P.  Pobyedonoszev 

"  Moscow, 

"  February,  1881. 

"  The  death  of  Dostoevsky  is  a  real  chastisement 
from  God.  Now  for  the  first  time  it  is  fully  felt  what 
value  he  had  as  a  teacher  of  the  younger  generation. 
Even  those  who  did  not  know  him  personally  must 
perceive  it.  Those  noble  ideals  which  many  a  youth 
cherishes  unconsciously  in  his  soul,  found  in  him  an 
upholder.  For  '  injured  and  insulted  '  is,  in  very 
truth,  only  the  religious  and  moral  sense  of  the 
Russian  intelligence.  ..." 


Ill 

TURGENEV  ON  DOSTOEVSKY 
Letter  to  Slutchevsky  of  December  26,  1861 

"  My  Bazarov,  or  to  speak  more  precisely,  my 
intentions,  only  two  men  have  comprehended: 
Dostoevsky  and  Botkin." 

Letter  to  Dostoevsky  of  December  26,  1861 

"  I  am  reading  with  great  enjoyment  your  '  House 
of  the  Dead.'  The  description  of  the  bath  is  worthy 
of  a  Dante;  in  several  figures  (for  example,  in  Petrov) 
there  are  many  most  authentic  psychological  subtleties. 
I  am  truly  rejoiced  at  the  success  of  your  journal,  and 
repeat  that  I  shall  always  be  glad  to  give  it  a  helping 
hand." 


316         CONTEMPORARY  JUDGMENTS 

Letter  to  Polonsky  of  April  24,  1871 

"  I  am  told  that  Dostoevsky  has  immortalized  me 
in  his  novel  ;l  I  don't  mind,  if  he  likes  to  do  that  sort 
of  thing.  .  .  ." 

[Turgenev  goes  on  to  tell  of  his  meeting  with 
Dostoevsky  at  Baden-Baden,2  and  says  more  than 
once  that  he  considers  Dostoevsky  to  be  mad.] 

Letter  to  Mme.  Milyutin  of  December  3,  1872 

"  MY  DEAR  MARIA  AGGEYEVNA, 

"  I  thank  you  from  my  heart  for  the  friendly 
feelings  which  dictated  your  last  letter.  I  was  not  in 
the  least  surprised  by  Dostoevsky 's  proceeding:  he 
began  to  hate  me  when  we  were  both  young  and  at 
the  commencement  of  our  literary  activities,  although 
I  did  nothing  to  call  forth  that  hatred.  But  un- 
reasoned passions  are,  it  is  said,  the  strongest  and 
most  persistent  of  all.  Dostoevsky  has  permitted 
himself  something  worse  than  a  parody:  he  has 
shown  me,  under  the  mask  of  Karmasinov,  as  a 
secret  partisan  of  Netchayev.  It  is  worthy  of  remark 
that  he  selected  for  this  parody  the  only  story  which 
I  published  in  the  journal  at  one  time  conducted  by 
him — a  story  for  which  he  overwhelmed  me  in  his 
letters  with  thanks  and  praise.  I  still  have  his  letters. 
It  would  certainly  be  rather  amusing  to  make  them 
public  now.  But  he  knows  that  I  shall  never  do  so. 
I  am  sorry  that  he  should  use  his  undoubtedly  great 
talent  for  the  satisfaction  of  such  unlovely  feelings; 
evidently  he  does  not  himself  prize  his  gifts  very 
highly,  since  he  degrades  them  to  a  pamphlet." 

1  As  Karmasinov  in  "  The  Possessed." 

2  See  Dostoevsky 's  letter  to  Maikov  of  August  16,  1867. 


TOLSTOY  SPEAKS  317 

Letter  to  Saltykov  of  November  25,  1875 

"  The  theme  of  Goncourt's  novel  is  very  daring. 
As  he  says  himself,  the  book  is  the  fruit  of  a  close 
scientific  study  of  the  life  of  prostitutes.  But  at  all 
events,  it's  something  very  different  from  Dostoevsky's 
'  Hobbledehoy.'  I  glanced  at  that  chaos  in  the  last 
number  of  the  Otetschestvennia  Zapiski;  my  God, 
what  a  welter  of  hospital  stinks  !  What  a  vain  and 
incomprehensible  stuttering;  what  a  psychological 
rubbish-heap  !  .  .  ." 

Letter  to  Saltykov  of  September  24,  1882 

"  I  also  read  Michailovsky's  article  on  Dostoevsky. 
He  has  rightly  divined  the  characteristic  mark  of 
Dostoevsky's  creative  work.  In  French  literature, 
too,  there  was  a  like  case — namely,  the  famous 
Marquis  de  Sade.  This  latter  depicts  in  his 
'  Tourments  et  Supplices '  the  sensual  pleasure 
afforded  by  the  infliction  of  refined  tortures.  And 
Dostoevsky,  in  one  of  his  books,  enlarges  on  the  same 
sort  of  delights.  .  .  .  And  when  one  thinks  that  all 
the  Russian  Bishops  said  masses  for  the  soul  of  this 
Marquis  de  Sade,  and  even  preached  sermons  about 
his  great  love  for  all  mankind  !  Truly,  we  live  in 
a  remarkable  age." 

IV 

LEO  TOLSTOY  ON  DOSTOEVSKY 
From  Tolstoy's  Letters  to  A.  N.  Strachov 

"  September  26,  1880. 

'  Lately  I  was  ill,  and  read  Dostoevsky's  '  House 
of  the  Dead.'  I  have  read  much,  and  forgotten 
much;  but  I  do  not  know  in  all  modern  literature, 


318         CONTEMPORARY  JUDGMENTS 

Pushkin  included,  any  better  book.  Not  the  manner, 
but  the  point  of  view,  is  what  is  so  remarkable;  it  is 
so  frank,  natural,  and  Christ-like.  A  fine,  edifying 
book.  Yesterday,  when  I  read  it,  I  knew  such 
pleasure  as  I  have  not  had  for  a  long  time.  If 
you  see  Dostoevsky,  tell  him  that  I  love  him." 


At  the  beginning  of  1881 : 

"  I  wish  I  had  the  power  to  say  all  that  I  think  of 
Dostoevsky  !  When  you  inscribed  your  thoughts, 
you  partly  expressed  mine.  I  never  saw  the  man, 
had  no  sort  of  direct  relations  with  him;  but  when 
he  died,  I  suddenly  realized  that  he  had  been  to  me 
the  most  precious,  the  dearest,  and  the  most  necessary 
of  beings.  It  never  even  entered  my  head  to  compare 
myself  with  him.  Everything  that  he  wrote  (I  mean 
only  the  good,  the  true  things)  was  such  that  the 
more  he  did  like  that,  the  more  I  rejoiced.  Artistic 
accomplishment  and  intellect  can  arouse  my  envy; 
but  a  work  from  the  heart — only  joy.  I  always 
regarded  him  as  my  friend,  and  reckoned  most  con- 
fidently on  seeing  him  at  some  time.  And  suddenly 
I  read  that  he  is  dead.  At  first  I  was  utterly  con- 
founded, and  when  later  I  realized  how  I  had  valued 
him,  I  began  to  weep — I  afn  weeping  even  now. 
Only  a  few  days  before  his  death,  I  had  read  with 
emotion  and  delight  his  '  Injury  and  Insult.'  " 


INDEX 


AKSAKOV,  Ivan  Sergeyevitch, 

239.  290,  314,  315;  letter 

to,  242 
Alexander     II.,     the     Tsar, 

92,  283,  287,  292 
Altschevsky,   Mme.   Ch.   D., 

letter  to,  211 
"  Andrey    Kolossov  "    (Tur- 

genev's),  29 
"  Androraaque,"  13 
Annenkov,  238,  254 
Annenkov,  Mme.  Praskovya 

Yegorovna,  letter  to,  77 
"  Atala,"  22 

Bachirev,      Alexey      Ivano- 

vitch,  77,  79 
Balzac,  4,  250 
Beketov  II.,  36,  40,  248 
Beranger,  19 
Berechetzky,  248 
Bernard,  Claude,  219 
Bernardsky,   38 
Bestuchev,  Alexander,  254 
Bielinsky,   Vissarion  Grigor- 

yevitch,    24,    25,    29,    30, 

3L  32.  34-  35.  39,  "6, 
143,  149,  156,  181,  205, 
206,  209,  250,  253,  254, 
255,  261 

Blagonravov,  Dr.  A.  F., 
letter  to,  244 

Boborykin,  Pyotr,  103 

Borislavsky,  General,  268, 
271 

Botkin,  315 


"Brothers  Karamazov,  The," 
150,  154,  162,  176,  177, 
180,  237,  239,  243,  244, 
302,  314 

Bulgarin,  Faddey,  26 

Butachevitch-Petrachevsky, 
M.  V.,  64,  257,  258,  262, 
281,  295 

Byron,  Lord,  8,  12 

Cellini,  Benvenuto,  96 
Chateaubriand,  9,  22 
Chomyakov,  205 
Constantine,    Mme.    V.    D., 

letter  to,  toi 
Corneille,  13,  14 
"  Crime    and    Punishment," 

95,  106,  161,  174,  211 

Danilevsky,  148,  163,  165 

Dershavin,  13,  259 

"  Diary  of  a  Writer,  The," 
123,'  211,  212,  213,  238, 
239,  242,  243,  252 

Dickens,  Charles,  136,  241, 
269 

Dobrolyubov,  204 

"  Don  Quixote,"  136,  241 

Dostoevsky,  Andrey,  46,  49 

Dostocvsky,  Anna  Grigor- 
ovna,  109,  no,  113,  114, 
119,  120,  121,  129,  130, 
132,  137,  139,  14°.  ML 
145,  146,  167,  169,  170, 
172.  186,  189,  190,  192, 


319 


320 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS 


Dostoevsky,    Emilie   Fyodo- 

rovna,  21,  30,  42,  49,  53, 

119,  1^7,  164 
Dostoevsky,  Fedya,  129,  132, 

138,  238 

Dostoevsky,  Kolya,  63 
Dostoevsky,  Lyuba,  183,  189 
Dostoevsky,    Maria  Dmitry- 

evna,  83,  275  et  seq. 
Dostoevsky,  Michael  Andre- 

yevitch,  5,  9;  letter  to,  i 
Dostoevsky,  Michael  Michail- 

ovitch,  247,  257,  262,  263, 

272 

Dostoevsky,  Sacha,  63 
Dostoevsky,  Sonia,  140,  141 
Dourov,      Sergey     Fyodoro- 

vitch,   50,   51,   53,   55,   56, 

78,  257,  258,  261,  262,  263, 

264,    265,    266,    267,    268, 

269,    270 
Drushinin,  65 

Dubelt,  Chief  of  Police,  281 
Dumas,  42,  251 

"  Eternal  Widow,  The,"  175 

"  Fathers   and    Sons,"   161, 

315 

Filippov,  64,  262 
Fonvisin,  Mme.  N.  D.,  66 
Fourier,  259 
Fran£ois  Xavier,  St.,  155 

"  Gambler,  The,"  104,  301 

Garibaldi,  124 

Gayevsky,  239 

George  Sand,  27,  85 

Gerassimov,  Mile.,  letter  to, 
217 

Goethe,  5,  242 

Gogol,  14,  15,  17,  19,  22,  31, 
32,  96,  157,  182,  209,  241, 
254.  255,  261,  280,  298 

"  Goliadkin  "  ("  The  Dou- 
ble "),  24,  28,  30,  31,  33, 

34.  35.  38.  42 
Golovinsky,  04 


Golubov,  182 

Gontscharov,    Ivan    Alexan- 

drovitch,  36,  97,  114,  174, 

194,  212,  241 
Gorgey,  279 
Granovsky,    163,    176,    179, 

181,  208,  237,  238 
Grave,  General  de,  268,  271 
Grigorovitch,  Dmitri  Vassili- 

vitch,  26,  27,  36,  37,  103  n. 
Grigoryev,  64,  156,  209,  282 
Guizot,  60 

Hasford,  the  Governor-Gen- 
eral of  Siberia,  93,  290, 
291 

Henselt,  Adolf,  291 

Herzen  (Iskander),  36,  116, 
126,  178,  205,  261 

"  Hobbledehoy,  The,"  317 

Hoffmann,  the  works  of,  4, 
5,  it,  248,  254 

Homer,  n,  12,  13 

"  House  of  Gentlefolk,  A," 
98 

"  House  of  the  Dead,  The," 
80,  105,  265,  266,  270,  286, 
290,  315,  317 

Hugo,  Victor,  5,  9,  12,  136, 
206,  211,  259,  280 

Humboldt,  219 

"  Idiot,  The,"  129,  135,  139, 

145,    152,    153,    158,    161, 

163,  185,  189 

"  Injury  and  Insult,"  99,  318 
Issayev,     Alexander    Ivano- 

vitch,  70,  71,  73,  75,  275, 

282,  284,  285,  286 
Issayev,    Pasha,     101,     119, 

132,  137,  147,  285;  letters 

to,  127,  138 
Ivanov,     Alexander     Pavlo- 

vitch,  134,  271,  273,  375 
Ivanov,    Constantine   Ivano- 

vitch,  60,  63,  77 
Ivanov,  Olga  Ivanovna,  77, 

78,  272 


INDEX 


321 


Ivanov,  Vera  and  Alexander, 
letters  to,  129,  183 

Kachelyov,  98 

Kachpirev,    148,    163,    172, 

175,  180 
Karamsin,  241 
Karr,  Alphonse,  27 
Katkov,  94,  97.  98,  107,  140, 

142,    154,    160,    161,    164, 

173.  193.  239 
Kelsiyev,  V.,  126 
Kireyevsky,  205 
Korvin  -  Kovalevsky,   Anna, 

302 

Kostomarov,  241 
Krayevsky,    26,    28,    30,    35, 

36.  38.  39,  53-  65,  156 
Krestovsky,     Vsevolod,     65, 

100 

Krivzov,  Major,  56,  271 
Kroneberg,  24 
Kukolnik,  27 

Lamansky,  Porfiry,  257 
"  Little  Hero,  The,"  65 
Lomonossev,  180 
Lyubimov,  106,  107,  161 

Maikov,    Apollon    Nikolaye- 

vitch,  37,  39,  93,  100,  128, 

I54.    I75>    272>    282.     See 

also  letters  to. 
Malherbe,  14 
Maria      Nikolayevna,       the 

Grand  Duchess,  93,  297 
Marlinsky    (Alexander    Bes- 

tuchev),  254 
Marten,  Colonel,  271 
"  Memoirs   of   a   Madman  " 

(Gogol's),  33,  102.  255 
Michailovsky's  article  on  Dos- 

toevsky,  317 
Milyutin,   Mme.,   Turgenev's 

letter  to,  316 
Monbelli,   Nikolay,   64,    257, 

262 
Muravyov,  280 


Napoleon  III.,  122,  127 
Nekrassov,  Nikolay  Alexeye- 

vitch,  24,  26,  29,   35,   38, 

250,  252,  253 
Nicholas   I.,    273,    279,    283, 

291 

Odoyevsky,  Prince,  28,  32 
Oldenburg,  Prince  Peter  of, 

291,  296 

Orlov,  Prince,  281,  296 
Osmidov,   Nikolay   Kukitch, 

221,  240 

Ostrovsky,  65,  151,  157 
Owen,  Robert,  259 

Palm,  Alexander,  257,  258 
Paul  I.,  149,  182 
Pechechonov,  Pyotr  Michail- 

ovitch,  73,  74 
Pererepenko,     Ivan     Ivanoj 

vitch,  15 

Peter  the  Great,  112,  227 
Pissarev,  204 
Pissemsky,  65,  84,  85,  96 
Plechtcheyev,  A.  N.,  50,  257, 

282 
Pobyedonoszev,  R.  P.,  letter 

from,  314,  315 
Polonsky,   Turgenev's  letter 

to,  316 
"  Poor  Folk,"  1 6,  18,  20,  21, 

23,  25,  26.  31,  32,  33,  37, 

38,  43,  103,  252 
"  Possessed,  The,"  174,  176, 

185,     193,     198,     199.     202, 

205,  306 
"  Prochartschin,     Mr.,"     36, 

43,  254 

.   Prokofyev,  K.  P.,  54 
•   Proudhon,  259 
|   Pushkin,  8,    12,    13,    19,   22, 

24  n.,  27,  94,  96,  157,  180, 

181,    204,    206,    208,    209, 

237,  241,  259,  280 


Racine,  13 
Ranke,  60 


21 


322 


DOSTOEVSKY'S  LETTERS 


Raphael,  19 
Reschetnikov,  210 
Ronsard,  14 
Rousseau,  207 

Saliubezky,  40 

Saltykov,  Turgenev's  letters 

to,  31? 

Sassulitch,  Vera,  231 
Schevirov,  27 

Schidlovsky,  I.  N.,  5,  8,  n 
Schiller,    n,   12,   13,   15,   20, 

23,  241,  242 
Schlosser's  "Weltgeschichte," 

241 

Scott,  Sir  Walter,  20,  241 
Senkovsky,  250 
Sevigne,  Madame  de,  85 
Shakespeare,   n,   13,  14,   17, 

48,  49,  96,  241 
Slutchevsky,          Turgenev's 

letter  to,  315 
"  Smoke,"  115,  118 
Snitkin,  102 
Sollogub,  Count,  28,  32 
Solovyov,  Vladimir,  235 
Souli6,  251 

Spiridonov,   Military  Gover- 
nor of  Semipalatinsk,  278 
Stankevitch,  176 
Stellovsky,  a  publisher,  107, 

200,  202 

Stepanov,  Captain,  275 
"  Stepanschikovo      Village," 

98,  279 
Sterne,  22 
Strachov,  Nikolay  Nikolaye- 

vitch,   103,  115,  143,   144, 

148,    154,    162,    163,    164, 


167,    179,    182,    200,    317. 
See  also  letters  to. 
Syetchenov,  219 

Tchaadayev,    Pyotr    Yakov- 

levitch,  181 
Tchernychevsky,    116 
Tchutchev,  216 
Thierry,  60 
Thiers,  60 
Tolstoy,    84,    157,    179,   210, 

2it,  241,  317,  318 
Totleben,  Adolf  Ivanovitch, 

91,  296 
Totleben,      General      Count 

Eduard    Ivanovitch,    292, 

296 ;  letter  to,  86 
Trediakovsky,  14 
Troizky,  Doctor,  268,  270 
Tur,  Eugenie,  65 
Turgenev,    29,    30,    49,    84, 

98,     115,     159,     163,     174. 

187,    194,    203,    209,    239, 

240,  254,  255;  letters  from, 

315 
Tyutchev,  Fyodor,  85 

"  Uncle's    Dream,"    84,    98, 
279 

Veimarn,  Alexander,  281 
Vitkovsky,  248 
Vrangel,   Baron,   70,   71,   73, 
74.  75.  78.  8°:  letter  to,  92 

Yastrchembsky,  53,  54,    55, 

64 

Zadonsky,  Tikhon,  i8r 


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